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McCarthy joins push asking Trump for more wildfire aid in California

McCarthy joins push asking Trump for more wildfire aid in California
© Greg Nash

California’s top House Republican on Tuesday joined the push for President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE to send more federal aid to fight the massive wildfires raging through his state.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R), a close Trump ally, endorsed a bipartisan letter from California lawmakers urging the president to approve a request, submitted last week by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), for a major disaster declaration across a handful of counties ravaged by the blazes — a designation that would free up more federal relief for local governments and individuals alike.

Trump on Saturday approved such a declaration for Shasta County, where the Carr Fire has already destroyed almost 170,000 acres and more than 1,000 homes, resulting in seven deaths. The bipartisan group of lawmakers wants the aid expanded to include Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties, where separate fires have grown even larger than the Carr.

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“These catastrophic fires are a disaster of major scope and consequence,” the lawmakers wrote. “Therefore, we strongly support the State of California’s request for a major disaster declaration for these communities.”

Spearheaded by California Reps. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiWuhan is the final straw: The world needs to divest from China GOP seizes on 'defund the police' to galvanize base Peace Corps faces uncertain future with no volunteers in field MORE (D), Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanOVERNIGHT ENERGY:  House passes sweeping clean energy bill | Pebble Mine CEO resigns over secretly recorded comments about government officials  | Corporations roll out climate goals amid growing pressure to deliver OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' COVID-19 complicates California's record-setting wildfire season  MORE (D) and Mike ThompsonCharles (Mike) Michael ThompsonHouse Democrats unveil green tax package The Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO's Michelle McMurry-Heath says 400 projects started in 16 weeks in biotech firms to fight virus, pandemic unemployment total tops 43 million Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D), the letter was endorsed by 22 additional California lawmakers, including McCarthy, House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi: White House made 'unacceptable changes' to testing language during negotiations on coronavirus stimulus MORE, and Reps. Doug LaMalfaDouglas (Doug) LaMalfaDemocrats hit Interior secretary for reportedly refusing to wear mask in meeting with tribes GOP lawmakers plan measure to force Americans to divest from firms linked to Chinese military: report House lawmakers advocate to preserve medical funding for underserved, rural areas MORE (R), Ken CalvertKenneth (Ken) Stanton CalvertMORE (R) and Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceAdvising Capitol Hill on insurance Bottom line The 'extraordinary rendition' of a US Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, 'Hotel Rwanda' hero MORE (R). 

The timeline on an administration decision remains unclear, as the fires are still burning and a preliminary damage assessment is not expected until the end of the week. A Democratic aide said that’s the earliest the lawmakers anticipate a decision on the request.

Last month, Trump approved an emergency declaration for Shasta County, represented by LaMalfa, freeing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide help largely in fighting the Carr Fire.

Saturday’s major declaration bumped up the level of aid in Shasta to include funding for repairs to government infrastructure, as well as housing, food and counseling services for affected individuals.

Since then, a pair of separate fires, known collectively as the Mendocino Complex, has mushroomed in size, destroying more than 290,000 acres in Mendocino and Lake counties northwest of Sacramento.

“The Mendocino Complex Fire continues to grow at an alarming rate, and is now the largest fire in our state’s history,” the lawmakers wrote to Trump. “It is only 30 percent contained.”

A fourth fire, the Steele Fire, hit Napa County last month, destroying 135 acres and eight structures before it was contained on Aug. 2.

“Though smaller in size than the Carr or Mendocino Complex Fires, the Steele Fire has already been extremely destructive,” the lawmakers wrote. “Residents were forced to flee with almost no prior notice, as the fire destroyed homes soon after ignition.”

The lawmakers are also warning that, with plenty of days left in California’s wildfire season, more damage is likely to come.

“These fires have been exacerbated by the weather, which is exceptionally hot and dry,” they wrote. “Daytime highs and nighttime lows have averaged 10 degrees above normal and drought conditions prevail.”

Updated at 6:15 p.m.