Padilla Statement on Senate Passage of Federal Funding Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown
California set to receive billions for wildfire response and drought relief
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Budget and Environment and Public Works Committees, issued the following statement after voting to pass the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which extends funding for federal programs for two months and prevents a government shutdown this week:
“After Senate Republicans repeatedly blocked legislation to fund the government and prevent a default, Senate Democrats came together to move forward and fund the federal programs that working families across America depend on. I’m proud to support this bill that will provide billions of dollars in critical funding to California for wildfire disaster response and drought relief, as well as funding to help re-settle Afghan refugees. It will also ensure that current government spending continues uninterrupted while we continue to negotiate bold new investments that deliver action on climate change, immigration, affordable child care, and so much more.
“Senate Republicans can’t have it both ways as they rack up debt when they’re in the majority and then avoid responsibility for it once they’re in the minority – all while they weaponize the filibuster to prevent Congress from addressing our nation’s impending credit default. Republicans’ irresponsible political games risking global economic catastrophe must stop.”
The bill includes disaster-related funding for the following programs:
Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus
The funding bill 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.
Several provisions advocated for by Padilla were included. One will create separate payment limits for each year, so that those producers affected in 2020 and 2021 can access assistance without maxing out due to previous crop damage. Another increases the payment limit for assistance, specifically for specialty crops and high value crops, such as wine grapes.
U.S. Forest Service
The bill helps keeps federal firefighters on the job working with our state partners to keep communities safe by including $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 and pushed leadership to include in this spending bill.
Department of the Interior
The bill 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 bill 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 bill includes $50 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants to enhance state and local emergency management capacity.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The bill includes $6.9 million to repair or replace assets, facilities, and equipment damaged by hurricanes or wildfires. $20 million is included for wildfire research to improve prediction, detection, and forecasting going forward, and $50 million is included for weather, climate, and wildfire supercomputer research.