House Republicans have criticized President Joe Biden’s response to the Maui wildfires, saying he is not providing enough federal funding and instead is too focused on helping Ukraine in its war against Russia.
“FEMA is underfunded by $4 BILLION, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) is only getting paid $1 per Georgian, Hawaii’s Lahaina needs urgent help because of the wildfire that killed more than 50 people, and America is broke,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted Earlier this month, shortly after the Maui wildfires broke out.
Greene added, “Biden wants to send another $24 BILLION to Ukraine.” NO!!”
Other Republican lawmakers have launched similar attacks.
“Biden is more concerned with funding the war in Ukraine than with helping his own country.” calculated Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona).
“President Biden has completely ignored the people of East Palestine” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “Now he treats the people of Maui the same way.”
Maui residents certainly did expressed frustration and anger at the pace of local, state and federal governments’ response to the devastating fires that began August 8. As of Monday: 115 people were confirmed dead and up to 1,000 residents are still missing. Rough 2,200 structures In the city of Lahaina, most of the homes were destroyed. Some locals relate the trauma of the devastation and the government’s slow response to it a general distrust of the government that goes back generations.
But federal aid to Ukraine has nothing to do with the funds available to fight Maui’s wildfires. And Republicans in the House of Representatives gloss over the reality that they have routinely resisted billions of dollars in federal funding to prepare for and fight wildfires, which is only increasing as climate change worsens.
Almost all in the last year voted against the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act, which would have authorized four federal agencies — including FEMA — to each spend up to $10 million on the Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program. The bill, which ultimately passed with a GOP supporter in the House of Representatives, would have instituted a 10-year wildfire strategy and allocated $1 billion for forest management and vegetation projects.
That’s just a fraction of the total funding they’ve turned down for wildland firefighting.
Greene, Biggs and Jordan all voted against the 2023 omnibus spending package in December, which earmarked $2.1 billion for wildland firefighting.
She voted against the additional spending package last September that provided $2.5 billion for wildland firefighting.
She voted against the annual transportation, housing and urban development spending package last July, which earmarked $6.4 billion for wildland firefighting.
She voted against a short-term federal funding proposal in September 2021 that included $1.36 billion for the Forest Service and $636 million for the Department of the Interior for wildfire response.
She voted against the annual July 2021 Labor, Health and Human Services spending package, which included $5.7 billion for wildland firefighting.
Not only does Greene oppose lots of federal money to fight wildfires, but he’s also a member of the Republican Study Committee, which presented its budget proposal in June Cut all funding related to climate change for the energy department. This included cutting funding for the department’s Office of Science, which deals specifically with wildfire research.
Some Republicans in the House of Representatives have attacked Biden’s leadership more broadly.
“The federal response to Maui was absolutely disgusting” tweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). “The state is run by Democrats, so officials cannot criticize it on political grounds, but we are all witnessing a complete failure of leadership AGAIN.”
“A true leader would share daily, if not hourly, updates on our actions in support of Hawaii.” tweeted Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas).
Boebert and Crenshaw, of course, opposed all of the aforementioned bills that would provide funds for forest fire prevention and control. Both are also members of the Republican Study Committee.
Certainly the President made some missteps. Be “no comment” When he told a reporter earlier this month about the rising death toll on Maui while vacationing at his beach house in Delaware, things weren’t looking too good — although the reality was he would have just talked about it in recent remarks. His decision to tell survivors of the Maui wildfire Monday that he understood their devastation a small kitchen fire he had once in 2004 was, well, interesting.
And it remains to be seen if Maui residents will get the help they need from all levels of government as soon as possible.
But Biden has largely done what one would expect a president to do, and the White House has stepped up efforts to show the range of his response.
Biden agreed a federal disaster declaration just over an hour after the wildfires broke out. He is in regular contact with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D), whom he met in Lahaina Monday to see the devastation firsthand. The White House was circulating information sheets about what different departments are doing and describes its response as “robust” and taking a “whole-of-government” approach. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell personally attended two White House briefings. The president has since addressed the situation publicly on several occasions, telling Maui residents Monday that the country will help them rebuild “for as long as is needed.”
That doesn’t mean some Republicans, particularly former President Donald Trump’s allies, will stop attacking Biden no matter what he does — or if the policies they support are inconsistent with the rhetoric they use.
Freshman Representative Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) posted a video On her Twitter account, she accused Biden of “actively ignoring what’s happening in Hawaii” while arguing for sending more money to Ukraine, “a foreign country that we really have no place to invest in.” .
“Hawaii and the people of Hawaii are far more important than places like Ukraine,” she said.
Luna is also a member of the Republican Study Committee.