While scientists warn that the climate crisis will continue to cause increasingly damaging weather events and disasters in U.S. communities, President Donald Trump made clear Friday his focus on a separate, invented "crisis" as he ordered officials to consider redirecting billions of dollars in disaster relief funds to pay for a wall at the southern U.S. border.
According to the Associated Press, the White House asked the Army Corps of Engineers to examine its budget, including $13.9 billion in emergency funds, to determine how much money it could spend to help build the wall Trump promised his supporters.
The emergency funds had been set aside for California in the wake of devastating wildfires that tore through 1.8 million acres in the state this year, as well as Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida as they continue to recover from 2017 and 2018's hurricanes and prepare for similar storms in the coming years.
Trump is floating the illegal theft of billions in disaster funds from recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and other ravaged locales, all to scare Democrats (who, unlike him, care about suffering people) into funding his white-supremacist vanity project. https://t.co/dYGxuzOzEZ
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) January 11, 2019
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) was among those who condemned the reports of Trump's plans.
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"Siphoning funding from real disasters to pay for a crisis manufactured by the president is wholly unacceptable and the American people won't fall for it," said Velazquez in a statement. "My Democratic colleagues in Congress and I will fight such a move with every ounce of energy we have."
According to the Houston Chronicle, the report of Trump's plans left city and county officials "scrambling to figure out how local flood control plans would be affected" by the White House proposal, a year and a half after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Houston.
Trump indicated Thursday during a trip to the border that he was planning to declare a national emergency in order to free up funds to build the wall, which is supported by only 41 percent of Americans, according to a recent Reuters-Ipsos poll. Democrats in Congress have refused to approve a spending bill that includes the $5.7 billion Trump has demanded for the wall.
As the president toyed with the idea of taking badly-needed funds to pay for the effects of the climate crisis—which he has denied exists—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Democrats' attempts to take up legislation to reopen the government, 800,000 Americans were continued to cope with the various and negative impacts of the shutdown. On Friday, those government employees on furlough or working without pay received no paycheck even as hundreds of thousands of them continue to report for work.