On Friday morning, President Donald Trump signed into a law a budget deal that ended the second short-lived government shutdown the nation has seen in the past three weeks.
Among other things, the deal includes around $90 billion for disaster relief funding—a response to the brutal hurricanes and wildfires of 2017.
But U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) says the new budget agreement does not do enough to address wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.
"Communities across the West, including my home state of Washington, are being torn apart by these disasters," Cantwell said in a statement, adding that an area two-thirds the size of Rhode Island has been burned in Washington in the last two years alone.
Portlanders also know how devastating wildfires can be. Just two weeks ago, a local organization announced the launch of a crowdfunding campaign to help restore the trails and scenic areas damaged by the massive, 35,000-acre Eagle Creek Fire.
Cantwell says huge wildfires are likely to become the new norm.
"The killer combination of climate change and decades of inadequate forest management has made these monster infernos the new normal," Cantwell stated.
And she claims that the budget Congress set aside for the area's fire programs last year was $1.4 billion short. That shortfall prompted Cantwell and five other Senators—Oregon's Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley included—to draft legislation that would bolster funding to protect the most at-risk portions of the Northwest's National Forests.
That bill was not included in the recently-signed bill.
"Mr. President, it hard to over emphasize my frustration at the current situation," Cantwell said. "We received a counter-offer at the 11th hour, and it contained only a short-term funding solution with eight new radical land management policies that they knew we could not accept."
Those counter-offers include repealing protections for old-growth trees and allowing exemptions for clear-cuts from environmental review.
Cantwell accused Republican leadership of injecting, "'poison pill' environmental riders into the process," and side-lining environmental laws that are meant to protect people, wildlife and public lands.
"I want the record to reflect," Cantwell said, "that while there were many provisions I supported in the underlying legislation, I cannot in good conscience vote for a bill that purposely left urgently needed wildland firefighting legislation on the cutting room floor."