Cantwell, Murray Applaud Biden Administration Granting Wildfire Aid for Washington State Communities

Following letter from Senators Cantwell and Murray, Biden administration approves Public Assistance for Washington state communities and Tribes affected by wildfires after months of delays by previous administration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) today applauded President Biden approving Governor Jay Inslee’s request for a statewide federal emergency disaster declaration in response to last year’s devastating wildfires. In doing so, the Biden Administration approved Public Assistance for Douglas, Franklin, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Whitman, and Yakima Counties and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and made all areas in the State of Washington eligible for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Individual Assistance to people and households in Malden who were affected by the wildfires remains under review. The move by the Biden Administration, just two weeks into President Biden’s term, comes after the Trump Administration refused to grant this aid to Washington state communities for months over political disagreements, leaving people and communities to wonder about their futures.

“No one should play politics with disaster relief,” Senator Cantwell said. “Now it is time to help Malden rebuild with this disaster declaration, which makes FEMA resources available to communities to help rebuild things like roads, bridges, and power lines.”

“I’m so glad that President Biden listened to the pleas of the communities and Tribes who have been devastated by wildfires, and moved quickly to grant a disaster declaration and relief after the previous administration’s delays,” Senator Murray said. “I appreciate everyone in Malden and other affected communities who have shared their stories with me to take to the White House and advocate for aid—your words and efforts have been critical to getting this done. Ensuring you get all the resources you need, including individual assistance, remains a top priority for me, and I will continue working with the Biden-Harris Administration to see this through till you’ve recovered.”

Senators Cantwell and Murray wrote to Vice President Biden on January 22 urging him to quickly approve Governor Inslee’s request for a disaster declaration, and since President Biden assumed office two weeks ago Senator Cantwell, Senator Murray, and their staffs have worked closely with the Biden Administration to get relief to Washington state communities in need. These efforts followed months of political delays by the Trump Administration on aid, despite multiple bipartisan overtures from Senators Cantwell and Murray and Washington state’s entire congressional delegation. On December 8, Senator Murray led Washington state’s full congressional delegation in a letter to President Trump and FEMA Administrator Gaynor urging approval of Governor Inslee’s September request for a federal emergency disaster declaration to address wildfire destruction in Whitman County that destroyed the community of Malden and other areas in Eastern Washington. This followed letters from the entire Washington state congressional delegation first on September 17 and then again on October 13 in support of Governor Inslee’s multiple requests for a Major Disaster Declaration for the state of Washington and supplemental federal assistance.