U.S. Senators from Oregon, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, announced Thursday that key legislation to fund the federal government through December and respond to recent natural disasters has been passed by both houses of Congress and will be enacted. Merkley is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Home Affairs, one of the main subcommittees that direct the fundraising.
The legislation includes billions of dollars in funding for wildfire response, drought relief, restoration of public lands and other critical needs for Western states that have been hit hard by wildfires and record drought in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
“The passage of this legislation today is a major victory for Oregon and the entire western United States,” said Merkley. “Our communities should not be left on their own to fight the consequences of historic disasters, and this funding will go a long way in rebuilding now and preventing devastating forest fires in the future. I have sought every means possible to provide this disaster relief, and I will continue to do whatever I can to make sure Congress does the right thing for Oregon as we face the fires, smoke and drought, and to make sure the United States does our part in addressing the root causes of our climate crisis.
“Oregon and the West have been hit hard by the climate crisis, with temperatures rising in the stratosphere, drought drying out our waterways and melting our peaks, and massive hells devastating our communities,” said Wyden. “The funding adopted today is essential to help rebuild our communities and make them stronger against future disasters. I will continue to fight tooth and nail to make sure Oregon has the resources it needs to continue its recovery and protect the people of Oregon from the effects of the climate emergency through climate action.
The funding that was passed today addresses many areas of critical need to help Oregon communities recover, including:
· $ 5 billion for the Community Development Blockchain for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR).
o This funding is essential for recovery from the 2020 Labor Day fires and can be used for a wide variety of urgent needs for communities that have been hit hard by the fires, including some that have been reduced to ashes . These funds can not only be used to help recover from physical damage caused by fires, such as rebuilding destroyed homes or repairing local infrastructure, but they can also be used to help recover from economic damage, such as rebuilding destroyed homes or repairing local infrastructure. through uses such as workforce training or small business loans.
· $ 200 million for the Bureau of Reclamation to help relieve drought, including in the Klamath Basin and central Oregon.
o This funding comes as many areas of Oregon experience another record-breaking drought year, straining farmers, ranchers and entire communities.
· $ 10 billion for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist agricultural producers affected by drought, forest fires, smoke and heat.
o It will help family farms and ranches to stay afloat after two extremely difficult years, providing direct payments to cover qualifying losses. Producers can approach USDA directly for assistance.
Merkley also fought to include funding to help prevent future wildfires and was able to secure $ 230 million for the reduction of dangerous fuels. Reducing hazardous fuels is key to making forests more resilient to wildfires and preventing wildfires from spreading uncontrollably, and Merkley has made investing more in this work one of his key priorities within of the credits committee.
Additionally, after the White House Office of Management and Budget failed to seek funding to restore public lands and repair damage to trails, roads and bridges from two consecutive years of fires in historic forests, along with other Home and Forestry Departments Maintain lands and facilities damaged by hurricanes and other disasters, Merkley used his position and his subcommittee chairmanship to ensure that the Salvage from forest fires on public lands would not be left behind – supporting jobs in the outdoor economy, protecting drinking water supplies and restoring salmon habitat. and other species. These investments include:
· $ 1.545 billion for much needed repair and salvage work, including debris removal, hazardous materials cleanup, and natural resource salvage and restoration.
o This will include the management of invasive species, revegetation, protection of critical habitat, restoration of burnt areas and restoration of watersheds, all of which must take place to restore these public lands to their previous state and prevent further damage. other damage.
o Funding will also be used for the repair and rehabilitation of federal facilities, roads, bridges, trails, dikes and reception areas.
These funds specifically include $ 1.185 billion for the Forest Service, $ 229.5 million for the National Park Service, $ 58 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service and $ 26 million for the US Geological Survey.