People of Northwest Public Radio
Wildfire Fighting Funds
Wed August 20, 2014
Oregon Congressman Pushes For Funds to Fight Wildfires
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon plans to use a rare procedure to force a vote on a bill that will increase federal funding for fighting wildfires. This is happening just as the U.S. Forest Service is close to surpassing its firefighting budget for the year.
The Forest Service anticipates running out of money to fight fires in the next couple of weeks. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, has co-sponsored a bill that would increase funding for fighting wildfires and tap into federal emergency funds— that are used for natural disasters— for catastrophic wildfires.
DeFazio has tried to get a hearing on the bill but said Republican leaders have blocked it. He said he's trying a rare procedure called a discharge petition.
"If you get 218 people— and we've got more than 218 people that support this bill— to sign a petition, the bill is forced to a vote on the floor of the house no matter what Paul Ryan thinks or John Boehner thinks or anybody else,” DeFazio said. “We've got 189 signatures, and I'm going to put on a big push when we go back to D.C. and hope to force a vote on that bill."
When the Forest Service goes over budget on fighting fires, it has to reduce other programs, including forest health, fuel reduction and recreation.
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