Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement today after securing several California wildfire priorities in the package of funding bills Congress is considering this week:
“Driven by climate change, wildfires are bigger and more deadly than at any time in recent history. In 2018 alone, 100 Californians were killed and 15,000 houses destroyed.
“If we’re going to keep Californians safe, we need to increase our fire suppression and prevention efforts. That’s exactly what the priorities in these funding bills do, and I’m proud we were able to include them. I’m also pleased that our budget fix will take effect this year and allow the U.S. Forest Service to use funds we’ve secured to complete long-planned fire prevention projects.
“The package also includes a bill I led with Senator Burr to extend tax relief to the victims of natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, which includes California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record.”
- Fire prevention and suppression: Senator Feinstein helped secure $5.6 billion to fight wildfires, a $1.6 billion increase over last year. The legislation also requires the federal government to prioritize projects in national forests facing significant tree mortality, like those in California.
- Dead and dying tree removal: Instructs the federal government to use new authorities provided in last year’s farm bill to promote forest health on federal, state and private land. Continues programs that remove dead or dying trees close to homes and infrastructure. Encourages new markets for wood products to help fund dead-tree removal.
- Disaster tax relief: Extends disaster tax relief legislation passed after the 2017 wildfires and hurricanes to cover 2018 and 2019 natural disasters. Allows victims to deduct damages caused by the disasters, makes it easier for people to access their retirement funds to recover from the disasters, provides an employee retention tax credit for companies that pay employees while their businesses were inoperable and lifts charitable contribution limits to encourage donations.
- Low income housing relief: Includes additional Low Income Housing Tax Credit funding which provides a tax incentive to construct affordable rental housing in California communities recovering from wildfires.