In a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday, U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray asked the newly sworn-in president to approve Gov. Jay Inslee’s request for wildfire disaster aid; a request that went ignored by the Trump administration for months.
“This inaction from the former president and his administration is unconscionable,” the senators wrote, “and we look to you to right this wrong for our constituents.”
Inslee twice requested a Major Disaster Declaration from former President Donald Trump after wildfires tore through parts of the state in September. Months later, his plea is still unanswered.
In 2020, the senators led the entire Washington congressional delegation in writing three letters to Trump in support of Inslee’s request.
The senators are now urging for immediate action from Biden to approve the aid request for communities affected by the “historically destructive wildfire season.”
The fires devastated the town of Malden, a rural community in Whitman County, destroying 80% of its homes and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people who are still without federal aid, according to the senators. An estimated 626,982 acres burned throughout a five-day period, also ravaging Pine City.
Though Trump never responded to Inslee’s request and gave no explanation, he approved similar requests from Oregon and California.
“Despite responding to several other disasters across the country that occurred after Washington’s wildfires, the Trump administration refused to make a determination and as a result, has held our constituents hostage for 128 days,” the senators wrote.
FEMA authorized federal funds to fight the fires in September, but Inslee is asking for Individual and Public Assistance to help communities rebuild after the destruction.
A Major Disaster Declaration by the president would trigger post-disaster relief funding. But for now, the request will stay under review by FEMA until the president makes a determination.
“These residents cannot wait any longer,” the senators wrote.