Obama signs bill funding drought forecast program

President Obama on Thursday signed a bipartisan bill reauthorizing a federal program that provides forecasts and support to communities vulnerable to drought.

"States, cities, towns, farmers, and businesses rely on tools and data from the National Integrated Drought Information System to make informed decisions about water use, crop planting, wildfire response, and other critical areas," the president said in a statement. 

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"As climate change increases the intensity of weather-related disasters such as droughts, wildfires, storms and floods, providing access to updated drought-related science and tools is growing even more important."

The legislation flew through Congress, earning a 356-21 vote in the House and passing via unanimous consent in the Senate. The bill will require the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to report to Congress on how the government can reduce problems stemming from drought more quickly, and it calls for the creation of an early warning system.

The reauthorization comes as California continues to be plagued by a massive drought that has threatened crops and could result in wildfires.

Obama said in his statement that his administration was "pursuing every measure to provide relief and support," and touted executive actions taken under his Climate Action Plan to address the complications from drought.

"I commend Congress for passing this bipartisan bill to continue to build our national resilience to drought and help communities, farmers, businesses and individuals better prepare and recover when disaster strikes," Obama said.