Senate

Senate Democrat threatening to suspend funding to Brazil amid Amazon fires

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) urged fellow lawmakers to cut all funding to Brazil until the Amazon rainforest fire crisis is resolved.

"The Amazon is literally on fire. And instead of confronting this crisis, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has pointed the finger at nongovernmental organizations charged with protecting the rain forest and called his own government's reports on deforestation fake," Schatz said in a statement Thursday. 

"The United States cannot treat this as business as usual."

The senator issued a call for the Trump administration to "communicate that the U.S.-Brazil bilateral relationship is in danger."

"We are deeply concerned about the impact of the fires in the Amazon forest on the communities, biodiversity, and natural resources of the region," a White House official responded following a request for comment from The Hill. 

Schatz also asked American companies in Brazil to pledge to pull out of the nation if Bolsonaro doesn't "reverse course and stop giving license to cattle ranchers and others to torch the rain forest."

"When the Senate returns, I will be working with my colleagues to hold every source of funding we provide to Brazil in abeyance until this crisis is over," Schatz said. 

Schatz is the chair of the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. He also sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

On Thursday Bolsonaro reportedly told other nations not to meddle in its Amazon rainforest fires. 

He has faced criticism in the wake of the fires, over his administration's rollback of environmental protections for the rainforest.  

Earlier this week Bolsonaro tried to shift the blame on the fires to nongovernmental organizations, accusing groups of setting the fires.

Updated: 2:25 p.m.

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