The Latest: California’s McCarthy backs Trump fire comments

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on Trump’s comments on California wildfires (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is defending President Donald Trump’s comments that California isn’t doing a good enough job managing its forests.

McCarthy, of California, says he agrees with Trump that better forest management could mitigate California’s deadly and destructive wildfires. He’s commenting in response to a Trump tweet threatening to withhold California’s federal disaster funding.

McCarthy didn’t comment on the funding threat directly.

He says he’ll propose more money for forest management as part of a spending bill offered by House Democrats this week. Democrats are passing bills to reopen parts of the government during the shutdown, but Republicans don’t plan to vote for the bills.

Fire scientists say its climate change, not forest management, that’s the chief cause of more destructive wildfires.

Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also of California, had challenged McCarthy to condemn Trump’s comments.


11:30 a.m.

California Republican lawmakers are criticizing President Donald Trump for threatening to withhold federal money for wildfire relief.

U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, state Sen. Jim Nielsen and state Assemblyman Jim Gallagher all represent a Northern California community leveled by wildfire in November.

Nielsen and Gallagher say Trump’s threat to withhold money is “wholly unacceptable.” They say a “Twitter war” between Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom is “not helpful.”

LaMalfa says federal and state policies for fire management can be improved. But he says California’s wildfire victims are “American citizens who require our help.”

Trump pledged to help wildfire victims during a visit to Paradise, California, with Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown last year.


9:30 a.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has responded to a threat by President Trump to withhold federal money intended to help the state cope with wildfires, saying residents should not be victims of partisan bickering.

Trump said Wednesday the money would be withheld unless the state improves its forest management practices.

Newsom, a Democrat, says “disaster and recovery are no time for politics.”

The dispute comes a day after Newsom joined the governors of Washington and Oregon in sending a letter to Trump asking for more federal dollars to clean up forests.

California lawmakers last year approved a fresh $1 billion over five years for forest management activities.

Newsom discussed that letter and other investments he plans to make in fire safety at a Tuesday event in the fire-prone Sierra Nevada foothills. He praised Trump then for quickly providing disaster relief money in the past.


8 a.m.

President Donald Trump is threatening to withhold Federal Emergency Management Agency money to help California cope with wildfires if the state doesn’t improve its forest management practices.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that California gets billions of dollars for fires that could have been prevented with better management. The state’s former top firefighter Ken Pimlott disagrees, saying last month that California leads the nation in clearing away dead trees and thinning areas to remove fuel for fires.

Trump tweeted that “unless they get their act together … I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”

November’s fire in the northern California town of Paradise was the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, killing at least 85 people and destroying nearly 14,000 homes.

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