Sens. Cantwell, Murray Urge Senate Leadership to Include Bipartisan Wildfire Funding Fix in Upcoming Disaster Aid Legislation
Sens. Cantwell, Murray: “The Senate should continue to push for a fire funding fix that treats wildfires like the natural disasters they clearly are”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After another devastating wildfire season in the West, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and a bipartisan group of senators today pressed Senate Leaders Mitch McConnell and Charles E. Schumer in a letter to include a wildfire funding fix in disaster aid legislation the Senate will soon consider.
The bipartisan Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA) would fix the way the federal government funds and fights wildfires. In recent years, the Forest Service has had to take funds out of fire prevention and forest health projects to support firefighting efforts, a practice known as “fire borrowing.” By allowing wildland firefighting operations to be funded out of designated disaster accounts, WDFA would free up the Forest Service budget and allow the agency to focus on preventing the fires from breaking out in the first place. This year alone the Forest Service and the Interior Department have spent almost $2.9 billion to put out wildfires. In their letter, the Senators urged leaders to include WDFA in disaster aid the House passed last week.
“Passage of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act will free up funds to do the prevention work that reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfires that our country has suffered this year -- funding that could have prevented the deaths of Americans, destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses, the loss of business revenue due to evacuations, and the loss of millions of acres of forests,” the Senators wrote. “We ask that you work with Western senators to include a comprehensive wildfire funding fix in any disaster supplemental bill that comes before the Senate.”
In September, Sens. Cantwell, Murray and a similar group of bipartisan senators wrote to the Senate leaders urging them to include the bipartisan wildfire funding fix in any disaster aid package that passes through Congress. Wildfires have burned about 8.7 million acres of land this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Read today’s letter here.
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