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Cortez Masto joins colleagues in seeking federal aid for fires

Amid devastating wildfires and rangeland fires across the West, and U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto joined Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, along with seven senators and 34 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, in a letter asking Senate and House leaders to replenish and increase funding for wildfire response and recovery.

The letter called for funding in any upcoming spending package and the passage of an additional federal relief package, known as a “disaster supplemental,” as massive infernos continue to rage in the West. Because of the efforts of Cortez Masto and her colleagues to end the irresponsible budget practice of “fire borrowing,” federal agencies no longer have to take money from other, non-wildfire related programs to pay for wildfire suppression.

Additional funding is urgently needed to replenish those accounts essential for wildfire response, including emergency and health services, housing and shelter, support for first responders and firefighters, economic assistance and more, as wildfires continue to bring destruction and dangerous smoke to communities in the West.

“First responders and firefighters are working around the clock to contain these fires and respond to the immediate needs of local communities,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Senate and House Appropriations Committees leadership. “But states are distressingly low on funds in light of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal partners have mobilized to assist states, more work remains as communities begin to assess and understand the scope of damages to properties and natural resources.

“Congress has previously acted in the aftermath of wildfires to provide federal relief, and accordingly, we ask that you make funds available for necessary wildfire response and recovery.”

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