Droughts and related wildfires are two serious problems in the US, particularly in California. President Obama and the Democrats have been working to provide much needed federal aid to for these climate related disasters. Despite Republican objections, in May Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) succeeded in securing the support she needed to pass the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014. However, in August, Republicans stonewalled legislation that would have provided financial support to assist California in its effort to fight wildfires.
In February President Obama announced a $1.2 billion aid package for farmers, ranchers and communities in California and several more agricultural states. This includes $15 million in conservation grants, $5 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program and $3 million for rural communities at risk of running out of water. The federal initiative earmarked funds to expedite approval for projects related to water quality and quantity. Obama also pledged $60 million for food banks in the State of California to help families that may be economically impacted by the drought and a total of $183 million specifically for California’s drought relief programs.
Aid to fight wildfires, which are known to be exacerbated by the climate change induced drought and heat, have been rejected by Republicans. Despite attempts by the Obama administration and Democrats in the House and Senate, Republicans said “no” to bills that would help fight these wildfires.
On Tuesday, August 5, House Republicans denied the aid package and on Thursday August 7, Republicans in the Senate rejected the much needed federal funding. They then left for vacation leaving the wildfires to keep burning out of control.
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