VP Harris announces $600M in California wildfire recovery

Vice President Kamala Harris, pictured at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, will deliver remarks this afternoon in California about federal efforts being made to prevent wildfires. Pool photo by Greg Nash/UPI

Jan. 22 (UPI) — Vice President Kamala Harris and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a San Bernardino, Calif., fire station Friday, announcing that the U.S. government is directing $600 million to wildfire recovery.

The federal funds come after years of record-setting wildfires that have burned millions of acres in California.

“We are at our best when local, state and federal government work together, unencumbered by politics or partisanship,” Harris said. “The people on the ground, doing this work every day, you inspire us all.”

She also touted funds set aside for wildfire prevention as part of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law. It allocates nearly $3.3 billion for wildfire prevention over five years.

Nearly 60% of California’s forests are national forests, with the infrastructure law providing billions for wildfire prevention to help protect them.

The Biden administration this week announced a comprehensive response to what it said is a worsening wildfire crisis. That plan includes a sharp increase in the use of controlled burns in forests to reduce the fuels that feed wildfires.

Harris and Vilsack received a briefing on wildfire prevention and mitigation at the Forest Service’s Del Rosa Fire station in San Bernardino on Friday afternoon, before delivering remarks.

The $1.2 trillion Biden infrastructure investment bill was supported by 19 Senate Republicans. Thirteen House Republicans also joined Democrats to pass that bill.

In addition to funds for wildfire prevention, it includes $550 billion for transportation, broadband and utilities.

That includes $110 billion for roads, bridges and similar projects, $66 billion for freight and passenger rail and $39 billion for public transit systems.

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