By now we are accustomed to Congress doing nothing. Our expectations are very near zero, but we are not yet fully numbed. To see so many elected leaders standing by, thumb twiddling as the West burns, pains us greatly. It is maddening that a natural disaster of on the scale of this year’s fires will produce no action out of the ordinary, and that emergency funding to fight them can be brushed off as a budgetary annoyance.
A catchall supplemental funding bill, to provide $615 million for firefighting, plus emergency aid for the southern border immigrant crisis and missile defense for Israel, was stopped just before the current congressional recess by a Senate Republican blockade. The firefighting appropriation would have replenished Forest Service funds drained to battle our fires. “As a senator from Washington state, I am extremely disappointed that Republicans have prevented us from providing critical federal resources to fight the devastating wildfires that are currently raging across the western United States,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.