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 TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE to send more federal aid to fight the massive wildfires raging through his state.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency Dem rep hopes Omar can be 'mentored,' remain on Foreign Affairs panel 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 GaramendiOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump blasts intel officials as 'passive and naive' | Lawmakers reintroduce Yemen war powers resolution | Dems push Pentagon to redo climate report | VA proposes new rules for private health care House Armed Services Dems demand Pentagon offer more complete climate change report Overnight Defense: Trump agrees to reopen government without wall funding | Senate approves stopgap spending | Dems ask Armed Services chair to block military funding for wall | Coast Guard official assures workers they will receive back pay MORE (D), Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanOvernight Energy: Court rules for Trump in environmental case over border wall | House bill would stop Alaska refuge drilling | Ads target Dems over Green New Deal Lawmakers introduce bill to ban drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge Overnight Energy: EPA enforcement numbers at historic low | Dems push resolution to back Paris climate agreement | Top lawmaker demands Interior nominee's schedules MORE (D) and Mike ThompsonCharles (Mike) Michael ThompsonHouse panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Utah tests Trump on Medicaid expansion | Dems roll out Medicare buy-in proposal | Medicare for all could get hearing next month | Doctors group faces political risks on guns Key doctors group faces political risks on guns MORE (D), the letter was endorsed by 22 additional California lawmakers, including McCarthy, House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency MORE, and Reps. Doug LaMalfaDouglas (Doug) LaMalfaOvernight Energy: Trump threatens to stop FEMA funding for California fire relief | Wheeler officially nominated to be EPA head | Wildlife refuges to get staff during shutdown California GOP lawmaker: Trump FEMA tweet 'out of left field' and unhelpful House GOP and Puerto Rico governor agree on statehood vote MORE (R), Ken CalvertKenneth (Ken) Stanton CalvertMORE (R) and Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceLawmakers propose banning shark fin trade Bottom Line Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch 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.