Trump Administration Reverses Decision To Deny Fire Disaster Aid For California
The Trump administration is reversing course on its decision to deny disaster relief funding for California after the state requested federal assistance in the midst of devastating wildfires.
ABC7 News reported that the administration said the request initially was denied because Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) failed to offer a precise damage estimate; however, the news outlet noted that “because the fires are still burning, damage estimates are still being finalized.”
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere released the following statement:
"This summer, President Trump quickly approved wildfire relief for the State of California that was supported by damage estimates. In fact, this week the President made additional disaster assistance available to California by authorizing an increase in the level of Federal funding to 100% for debris removal and emergency protective measures undertaken as a result of the wildfires, beginning August 14, 2020, and continuing. The more recent and separate California submission was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator's recommendation."
It remains unclear why the administration changed its position on Friday, but Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) said President Trump was "committed to reverse FEMA's decision to deny the request" and a "Presidential Disaster Declaration is imminent and help is on the way."
California’s governor confirmed that federal assistance is forthcoming:
“Just got off the phone with President Trump who has approved our Major Disaster Declaration request. Grateful for his quick response," said Gov. Newsom in a statement Friday afternoon.