Garamendi Signs Discharge Petition to Compel Vote for Wildfire Disaster Aid Funding
WASHINGTON, DC – As the scourge of wildfires in California continues, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03), former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior, today joined 85 of his colleagues in signing a discharge petition that would force consideration of H.R. 3992, the bipartisan Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2014. When a majority of Members of the House of Representatives sign onto a discharge petition, the bill automatically comes to the House Floor for a vote.
“This commonsense bipartisan legislation would enable us to better protect our communities and land from the dangerous spread of wildfires,” said Garamendi. “The historic drought in the West has turned California into a tinderbox. While these are both natural disasters, they are both within our control to effectively manage.”
The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, a bipartisan bill authored by Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID-02) and Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05), makes commonsense changes to treat the budget for federal wildfires like those for similar major disasters, such as floods and hurricanes. It ensures that money intended for forest management activities is used as it was originally intended. For example, it would ensure resources go to needed ongoing services like general forest management and hazardous fuel reductions that would help to prevent catastrophic fires. When firefighting costs balloon beyond appropriated levels, the bill would require the use of contingency money rather than dipping into forest management money.
The Monticello fire near Lake Berryessa has burned nearly 6,400 acres in Northern California and has required 1,533 firefighters, 121 engines, 46 fire crews, three helicopters, 18 bulldozers and 25 water tenders. Under current law, the extraordinary expense of the Monticello fire will result in a reduction in money available for forest management. This will result in reduced funds for forest hazard reduction, thus creating a greater probability for more fires in the future. The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2014 would help us prepare for future wildfires in order to make them less severe, which saves lives and saves money.