California Republicans Decline to Join Push for Federal Aid After Deadly Fires

A truck burns as fire ravages the Napa wine region in California on October 9, 2017, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region.

A truck burns as fire ravages the Napa wine region in California on Oct. 9, 2017. Multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

UPDATE 1:00  p.m. Nov. 7, 2017: This story was revised to include comments from Gov. Jerry Brown about the lack of Republican support for the letter he sent.

The poisonous partisan divide within California’s congressional delegation was laid bare Friday when just one Republican signed on to a letter sent to President Trump requesting $7.4 billion in federal disaster assistance following the recent wildfires in Northern California’s wine country.

The letter, sent Friday morning by Gov. Jerry Brown and signed by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris along with 39 members of California’s 52-member House delegation, included just one Republican name: Ed Royce, who represents the 39th Congressional District in Orange County.

The letter was circulated to the offices of each of the 14 Republican representatives from California by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), whose district includes most of the areas affected by the fires.

Thompson spokesman TJ Adams-Falconer said that other than Rep. Royce, House Republicans from California refused to sign it.

“It’s unfortunate that some Republicans did not stand with the rest of the California delegation to help fellow Californians ravaged by the recent wildfires,” Adams-Falconer said in an email.  “We will continue to try to work with the Republican members of our delegation to get all those devastated by the fires back on their feet.”

We reached out to several House Republicans from California who refused to sign the letter, but none responded.

Republican political consultant Luis Alvarado, whose clients do not include any GOP House members, was at a loss to explain why Republicans would decline to join the request for federal help, unless, he said, it included funding for items they felt were superfluous.

“Like a desalination plant or a requirement that construction work be done by union people,” Alvarez said.

The $7.4 billion request included no desalination plants, instead focusing on construction of housing, schools and businesses, hazardous waste removal and help for growers and others whose agricultural lands were damaged or destroyed by the fires.

As the letter notes, this would be the third supplemental disaster-related appropriations bill responding to recent hurricanes and wildfires.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s deputy press secretary, Ali Bay, declined to comment on the lack of Republican support for the disaster request, other than to say “we reached out to the entire California delegation and we’re hopeful that Democrats and Republicans will overcome Washington’s politics as usual and come together to do what’s best for our state.”

No one is holding their breath on that one.

Speaking over the weekend during a climate change conference at the Vatican, Brown made an off-the cuff remark suggesting how dysfunctional the relationship is with California’s congressional delegation.

“The Republican members of the delegation would not join in a letter with the other Democrats to ask for federal relief, but they did write me a letter saying they thought it was a good idea that we ask for relief,” Brown said. “So that was almost a joining together. But that indicates how difficult it is.”

The governor has previously expressed appreciation for federal disaster relief allocations from the Trump Administration, including one to help repair the Oroville Dam spillway earlier this year.

But more recently Brown sent another letter to California Republican House members urging them to vote against any GOP tax plan that calls for eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes. But in a collective finger in Brown’s eye, each one voted for the GOP budget proposal, a first step toward passing the tax bill.

In response to Gov. Brown’s letter,  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) released a video message criticizing the governor’s support for higher taxes, including the recently increased gas tax.

“If Gov. Brown is worried about the tax burden, let’s make cutting [taxes] a federal and state project,” McCarthy said.  “We’re lowering rates at the federal level. So if Gov. Brown works to lower rates in California, I will stand right beside him to get that done.”

California Republicans Decline to Join Push for Federal Aid After Deadly Fires 7 November,2017Scott Shafer

  • GooberDan

    We should recall all 14 CA GOP members. First they vote to eliminate our state deduction and then they refuse to support emergency aid for California. What the hell use are they?

    • Tommy Anomaly

      Haha your third world state has to beg uncle Sam for help

      • Donna Deka


      • Melissa Cortez Derflinger

        Third world states are the south. You’re showing how uneducated you are.

        • Tommy Anomaly

          Texas has no income tax. We subsidize your sorry state.

          • WindingVine

            You don’t really know how taxes work, do you?

      • GooberDan

        haha our state is the biggest donor state to the federal budget. Without our tax dollars you wouldn’t be able to get a welfare check to buy black market oxycontin.

        • Tommy Anomaly

          Texas subsidizes Californians income tax. We have no income tax with an already lower cost of living. Theirs a reason millions of people are leaving California for Texas.

          • GooberDan

            No. It. Doesn’t.

            The extent to which the average American’s tax burden varies based on his or her state of residence represents a significant point of differentiation among state economies. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

            What if, for example, a particular state can afford not to tax its residents at high rates because it receives disproportionately more funding from the federal government than states with apparently oppressive tax codes? That would change the narrative significantly, revealing federal dependence where bold, efficient stewardship was once thought to preside.

            The idea of the American freeloader burst into the public consciousness when #47percent started trending on Twitter in 2012. And while the notion is senselessly insulting to millions of hardworking Americans, it is true that some states receive a far higher return on their federal income-tax contributions than others.

            Just how pronounced is this disparity? And to what extent does it alter our perception of state and local tax rates around the country? WalletHub sought to answer those questions by comparing the 50 states in terms of three key metrics. Read on for our findings, expert commentary and a detailed methodology.

            1 MAIN FINDINGS
            2 RED VS. BLUE STATES
            5 METHODOLOGY

            Main Findings

            Most Federally Dependent States
            (1 = Most Dependent)
            Total Score
            ‘State Residents’ Dependency’ Rank
            ‘State Government’s Dependency’ Rank
            1 Kentucky 76.16 6 5
            2 Mississippi 75.59 7 1
            3 New Mexico 73.88 3 17
            4 Alabama 72.45 4 14
            5 West Virginia 68.97 5 15
            6 South Carolina 68.17 2 31
            7 Montana 65.91 14 4
            8 Tennessee 61.76 20 3
            9 Maine 61.02 13 9
            10 Indiana 59.18 7 23
            11 Arizona 59.08 15 11
            12 Louisiana 55.39 40 2
            13 South Dakota 53.57 24 7
            14 Missouri 52.66 31 6
            15 Oregon 51.51 23 10
            16 Georgia 49.81 34 8
            17 Idaho 49.64 19 19
            18 Vermont 49.56 18 20
            19 Wyoming 48.80 26 12
            20 Maryland 48.18 11 32
            21 Oklahoma 47.78 21 18
            22 Pennsylvania 46.15 17 30
            23 Alaska 45.81 10 40
            24 Rhode Island 45.05 36 16
            25 Florida 43.84 27 22
            26 Ohio 42.25 45 13
            27 Arkansas 42.12 38 21
            28 North Carolina 41.63 32 25
            29 Hawaii 41.63 9 46
            30 Iowa 41.38 33 26
            31 Wisconsin 41.09 16 38
            32 North Dakota 40.46 1 50
            33 Michigan 40.43 35 27
            34 New York 37.65 44 24
            35 Texas 36.81 42 28
            36 Washington 35.32 30 33
            37 Colorado 35.20 29 34
            38 Virginia 34.43 12 49
            39 Nebraska 33.78 47 29
            40 Utah 33.28 28 35
            41 New Hampshire 31.11 37 36
            42 Connecticut 27.80 22 48
            43 Massachusetts 27.36 46 37
            44 Nevada 26.94 25 47
            45 Kansas 25.39 39 45
            46 California 25.36 41 43
            47 Illinois 23.96 48 41
            48 New Jersey 23.84 49 39
            49 Minnesota 23.09 43 44
            50 Delaware 21.32 50

    • ConcernedCalifornian

      Recall the 13 GOP members, supposedly California Representatives, that refused to sign this. Ed Royce, Orange County, signed the letter. Let’s thank Ed Royce!
      “The letter, sent Friday morning by Gov. Jerry Brown … included just one Republican name: Ed Royce, who represents the 39th Congressional District in Orange County.
      The letter was circulated to the offices of each of the 14 Republican representatives from California by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), whose district includes most of the areas affected by the fires.”

      • GooberDan

        Did Ed Royce vote to repeal SALT? the state and local tax deduction? Which will be a HUGE hit to California. I think he did.

  • Mary Tannahill Kelly

    Unless they can give me a really good reason they ought to be tarred & feathered and run out of state on a rail. I’ve had it with the b@astards.

    • Tommy Anomaly

      Sorry but those of us outside of California are tired of bailing your lazy welfare state out. Texas says let it burn.

      • Donna Deka

        So we should have let Houston learn to swim?

      • plantguy

        California, unlike Texas, pays more in federal taxes than we receive in services. Did we refuse to help the people of Houston when they were underwater or whine about dimwit redstaters? No. When people are suffering you help them.

        • jake3_14
          • AnonymouseIsAWoman

            Really Jake? Try this one on for size: Dependency is a loose term in your comparison, implying that the so-called “dependent states” would suffer a greater impact through federal defunding. When you compare federal contributions against a state’s GDP your numbers would be correct. Taking the same federal contributions and dividing them by the state’s population, the results are very different. While Kentucky, Mississippi and New Mexico sit atop your GDP list, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland sit atop my federal dollars per individual list. This leads me to conclude that, although red states with lower GDP’s may proportionally receive more federal dollars, blue states with larger populations are actually more dependent on federal dollars. Dividing federal dollars sent to states by the state’s population (federal dollars per person by state), 13 of the top 25 consumers are blue states. 17 of the bottom 25 are red states. If you want to test this dependency theory, cut off all federal spending and see where the chaos ensues.

          • jake3_14

            You could also take the total income reported for a state, divide it by the population of the state, and declare that per capita, all residents of the state earn a wage above the poverty level.

            So what?

            The per capita statistics are meaningless, just an academic exercise. Not everyone receives federal aid in a state, and those that do receive may receive either more or less than the statistical per-person average. What matters is the total spent.

          • baruchzed

            This is called the “New Republican Math” whereby they try to pretend that the red states are not actually parasites, when in fact they are.

        • AnonymouseIsAWoman

          Actually, blue state residents tend to take some of the largest individual deductions, deductions that specifically benefit those with the highest incomes. Everyone else pays a lot higher percentage in taxes than higher income Californians. Then there are the subsidies for the rich in California – deductions for electric cars, subsidies for professonal installation of xeriscapes, subsidies for professional installation of solar panels. Lots of goodies for the higher income in California – and often paid for people in other states through federal subsidy programs invented with the excuse of “saving the planet.”

          • plantguy

            Because taking steps to save water and fuel are such terrible things? Residents of red states are so patriotic they pay more in taxes out of the goodness of their hearts? Please back up what you’re saying with some facts rather than emotion and Fox “News” speculation. Thank you.

      • Laura Gonzalez

        Then next time, your worthless state can drown. Secede into the ocean. And no federal monies. C U Next Tuesday.

      • e mckay

        He must think that Texans should return the Federal disaster monies they have received. Unless, of course, his own home and belongings are affected. Then that’s a different story. LOL.

      • Patricia Pankow

        troll alert. nice pic, btw. lol!!!

      • Shakira Graham

        It shows you know nothing. California gives the Feds more money than we get back. We keep red states afloat.

        • AnonymouseIsAWoman

          You also tend to have higher incomes – and you disproportionately used specific itemized deductions that were designed to be of use for higher income groups.

          • baruchzed

            Make up your mind, which is it? You say different things in different posts, contradicting yourself. smh.

          • rich m

            There’s no reason itemized deductions should only be reserved for “high-income groups”.

        • AnonymouseIsAWoman

          Helpful hint: this is no surprise. The federal government keeps some money for federal use. Some states, like the Dakotas, receive more dollars because instead of emulating California and closing all of the reservations and stealing everything possible from the tribes – they continue to honor the federal treaties and the tribes are receiving the programs.

          • Richard Bruns

            Tommy Anomaly – That is pure fabrication. The Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming, are well known for their anti-Native America programs (can you spell pipeline?, Wounded Knee?). California is at the forefront of pro-Natrive American support, as it is in the forefront of virtually all progressive programs. It is clear that the Republican Party of today no longer puts country ahead of party; and in many instances, don’t even put their own party ahead of person greed. That a politician, regardless of party, would refuse their sworn duty to support Americans in disaster relief is a moral outrage. It is a violation of their oath of office, a violation of their Christian beliefs (and what Republican would dare claim any other religion but Christianity?), and a violation of general morality. But then, what can one expect from politicians who are not outraged at the 45th president’s constant violation of Amendments I, IV and V of the U.S. Constitution. As for all y’all down in Texas, here is/are the facts: The Constitution states: “Article IV, Section 2 states: “The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.” What this means is that federal law must apply to all states equally. The constitution does not permit the federal government to make laws that apply only to one, or certain states and not to others. All states are united under one set of federal laws that apply to all.

            Created in 1979, The Federal Emergency Management Agency, aka: FEMA.

            FEMA is designed to bring an orderly and systemic means of federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens.

            According to Article IV, Section 2, of the U.S.Constitution, it is illegal for the Federal Government to favor one state over another in responding or complying with Federal Laws or programs … such as FEMA.

            These are all Constitutional issues. According to the Constitution,

            “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

            That oath reads, and is legally binding when sworn to:

            “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

            Ergo, disaster relief is a U.S. Federal responsibility, supported by the Constitution, and is a legal and moral obligation of the office of the president and all members of Congress. Constitutional responsibility is non-partisan and required of all U.S. legislators. Republicans support Harvey Relief but deny California fire relief. That is fundamentally illegal under Federal Law. As such, these Republicans (so-called … Eisenhower, Ford, and even Goldwater would be appalled at such callous selfishness and partisanship) are violating their oath of office. They shame themselves; they shame California; they shame their party (such as it has come to be); and they shame their country. And perhaps the worst of all, the further victimize thousands of people who have lost everything, and in at least 43 instances, lost their lives. Again … SHAME! And shame on Texan Tommy Anomaly for not doing his homework…please buy a copy of the Constitution and try to read it.

      • Bear Essentials

        I hope you die a slow, agonizing death.

      • Lefty Blitzer

        You are nothing but a brain-dead, disgusting POS. It is the southern states that are the welfare states, moron.

      • JD

        We are not a welfare state, we kick up to the feds the most of any state in the union. CA is the world’s 6th largest economy, our state creates and generates more revenue than most countries and we generate more wealth that’s a significant part of the US’s GDP. Dude, you don’t know anything about economics. Take a seat, read a book without using your finger to sound out the words. You don’t know enough to comment on this thread, not sure if you ever will either.

        • Tiffany Brost

          If that’s true then you really don’t need federal aid. Have your Hollywood liberals pay for it.

          • rich m

            Imagine if people had your same attitude towards Houston.

        • Tommy Anomaly

          Sorry sugar tits but your state has an annual budget deficit of 10 billion dollars a year and more business suffocating regulations than North Korea. Texas always has a budget surplus. Also your cost of living is more than twice as high as us where a small crappy house costs half a million dollars. More and more people are realizing that the nice weather just isn’t worth and are leaving California by the millions. It’s like comparing Guatemala to the United States. You couldn’t compete with Texas in a millions years. Enjoy your misery.

          • DesertSun59

            More complete lies. People aren’t leaving CA by ‘the millions’. No one compares the US with Guatemala. Your pretend statistics are laughable.

      • WindingVine

        Wow. I bet you call yourself a “Christian.” Maybe we blue states should just have sent our “thoughts and prayers” to Houston, instead of aid?

      • Phranqlin

        Texas just endured devastating floods. Californians cheerfully donated to help them and voted for federal assistance for them.

        In other words, don’t be an arschloch.

      • DesertSun59

        Clearly, you are a Russian bot. That’s because your comment is factually incorrect by any measure you care to use. You used none. You merely made up crap.

  • Susan Quan

    WTH do they live in a state they cannot support??!? Can’t wait til they are voted right out of office!

  • Oliver St.John-Mollusc

    Well done you elected IDIOTS like me!

  • e mckay

    Traitors! California Republicans throw Californians under the bus.They won’t even go to bat for those who have lost everything in a disaster. This is ugly stuff. I guess they are showing their true colors. Disgusting.

    • Tommy Anomaly

      Something about hippies caught in a California wild fire that makes me laugh.

      • e mckay

        Here we have an example of the different choices that people make in life. Some people seek to lift other people up – others get pleasure out of tearing people down. Some enjoy causing others pain. There are those who help, and those who prey on the weak. Especially during disasters we see the range of behavior and human consciousness. You see much kindness, and great acts of heroism, from ordinary people and from first responders. On the other side you also see looters, and scammers who try to cheat damaged people. Choices. Some choose to be trolls.

      • Laura Gonzalez

        Or Texans drowning in floods….

      • mediarare

        Could you please put your teeth back in before you do, Cletus? Thats if youre done servicing your uncle daddy, that is.

        • AnonymouseIsAWoman

          You confuse him with a San Francisco liberal.

          • mediarare

            So, youre gonna defend a moron cheering about people losing lives and homes? AnonymousIsACancer. Go back to goatf**king and digging cheetos out of your couch for breakfast.

  • jake3_14

    gorram Republicoonts.

  • Arletta_Dawdy

    Time to splah names of GOP hold outs all over the front page and reveal who their sponsors are!

  • AnonymouseIsAWoman

    Californians have more high wage earners, and they take advantage of more of the itemized deductions that benefit the wealthy. They also disproportionately receive various “green subsidies” that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. The subsidy someone may receive for installing solar panels, or a xeriscape can be almost as much as California gives to a family of three on welfare – FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. California can afford to fix this without federal help. Other states cannot.

    • JD

      We pay more money than any state in the union and we don’t get back in emergency aid. If the “tax write off” myth we’re true, MS, AR, AL, FL, TN, KY, KS should never receive anything, since even combined they don’t pay up to the federal level near what CA does, heck then TX should refund money back from Harvey. Only an idiot would make the statement you made, oh CA has more high earners…” it’s our population that justifies our status. Take a seat.

      • Tommy Anomaly

        If you knew how good the average Texan had it you’d be jealous.

        • WindingVine

          Been to Texas, not that impressed.

    • plantguy

      Wow you are oddly obsessed with xerispace subsidies.

  • Lefty Blitzer

    Time to rid the state, and the entire country, of these heartless, brain-dead, evil, anti-American TRAITORS known as the Republican Party.

  • Tiffany Brost

    If they stop giving illegals a free ride on taxpayers money they wouldn’t need federal aid. They keep screaming that Trump isn’t their president, won’t obey federal law, and it’s the illegals they let in that started the fire to begin with! They don’t want to be a part of America anymore. I’m sure the republicans that refuse to sign are to embarrassed to, and with good reason. California doesn’t deserve any federal aid until by drastic actions, they show HUGE changes first.

    • e mckay


  • baruchzed

    Republicans want to see the country brought low so that everything can be privatized. It’s that greedy selfish mentality that has marked the republican party as the party of traitors, con men (and women) and perverts.

  • Scott Ramirez

    If Southern California Republicans don’t want to help Northern California, maybe Northern California should keep their water where it is or at least charge them for the fair value. After all, they claim the free market should define everything we do… These people are are insane!

  • Kris Fox

    Cut taxes now! You can make your state a roaring success like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama.

  • Curious

    California is the country’s welfare queen. One eighth the country’s population. One third of the country’s welfare recipients….

  • DesertSun59

    The GOP operates as a nearly solid body politic for exact ONE constituent: their highest donors. Their refusal to request funding to assist California in rebuilding proves that they are, in no way, in office for their CONSTITUENTS. The irony is that those very same constituents will vote for those same House members again in 2018 even tho those incumbents expressly stated that they refuse to do nothing for them.

  • gayineastbay

    Kevin McCarthy is a political hack, interested only in his self-preservation.


Scott Shafer

Scott Shafer migrated to KQED in 1998 after extended stints in politics and government to host The California  Report. Now he covers those things and more as senior editor for KQED’s Politics and Government Desk. When he’s not asking questions you’ll often find him in a pool playing water polo. Find him on Twitter @scottshafer

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