Funding Package Includes Billions in Wildfire Disaster Aid Pushed by Padilla

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Democrats introduced a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December and included major disaster funding requested by U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D–Calif.). This includes significant investments in wildfire prevention, firefighter pay, and rehabilitation of burned lands.

“Funding wildfire prevention and recovery is one of the most cost-effective investments we can make,” Senator Padilla said. “The money we spend now will save lives and billions of dollars in property damage in the coming years. That’s why I have been advocating for increased funding for vegetation management, rehabilitation of burned land, and firefighter pay. The continuing resolution not only helps the federal government meet our obligations, it will help us prevent and respond to disasters. I urge my colleagues in House and Senate to vote for the continuing resolution released today.”

Padilla and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Senate leadership urging them to include robust funding in the disaster supplemental funding package as requested by the State of California to support response and recovery efforts related to the historic and devastating recent wildfire seasons.

The continuing resolution includes funding for the following:

Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus

The continuing resolution includes $10 billion for the Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP+). This funding helps agricultural producers who have been affected by wildfires, including those who have smoke-tainted crops.

Padilla successfully advocated for WHIP funding, including provisions to create separate payment limits for each year so that producers affected in 2020 and 2021 can access assistance without maxing out due to previous crop damage. Another provision requested by Padilla increases the payment limit for assistance, specifically for the specialty crops and high value crops prevalent in California, such as wine grapes.

U.S. Forest Service

The continuing resolution includes $1.36 billion for expenses related to the consequences of 2019, 2020, and 2021 wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. This includes $175 million for hazardous fuels management—such as vegetation clearing—and $175 million for burned area rehabilitation activities.

A waiver of the annual pay cap for emergency wildland fire suppression workers at the Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service for 2021 was also included. This is a provision from the Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act, which Senator Padilla introduced with Senator Feinstein earlier this year.

Department of the Interior

The continuing resolutions includes $416 million for expenses related to the consequences of 2019, 2020, and 2021 wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. This includes $55 million for hazardous fuels management and $45 million for burned area rehabilitation activities.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

The continuing resolution includes $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program to enable long-term disaster recovery relief for major disasters that occurred in 2020 or 2021, including restoration of housing and infrastructure, economic revitalization, and mitigation measures.

Department of Homeland Security and FEMA

The continuing resolution includes $50 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants to enhance state and local emergency management capacity.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The continuing resolution includes $20 million for wildfire research to improve prediction, detection, and forecasting going forward, and $50 million for weather, climate, and wildfire supercomputer research.

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