On Monday, President Donald Trump was asked point-blank whether he supports cutting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) budget in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. His response: “No.”
Left unmentioned was the fact that, earlier this spring, the president of the United States called for historic cuts to FEMA’s budget. Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint proposed more than $1 billion in cuts to FEMA — 11 percent of its total footprint. The proposal would make major cuts to six FEMA grants, including its two largest for preparing for and responding to emergencies. It would also entirely eliminate four grants, including funding for emergency food and shelter and training for first responders.
The administration’s rationale is that FEMA funding cuts are needed to pay for its immigration enforcement and mass deportation efforts — along with Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the southern border. All told, Trump wants to shift $5 billion within the Department of Homeland Security, where FEMA is housed, to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
FEMA is not Trump’s only target for cuts when it comes to disaster preparedness. The budget also takes an axe to the US Coast Guard (unusual given the administration’s support for increased US military spending), which has already rescued dozens from the floodwaters in Texas. The budget cuts a whopping $1.2 billion from the Coast Guard’s approximately $9 billion budget.
And despite promises to invest in the country’s infrastructure, Trump’s budget slashes the investments that are critical for disaster preparedness. He would immediately eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, which, among other things, helped Florida build a new hurricane evacuation route in the Everglades. His cuts to the Highway Trust Fund would starve the country’s highway infrastructure of nearly $100 billion — and put more than 97,000 jobs at risk in Texas alone. Just last week, Trump announced the rollback of an Obama administration order that new infrastructure projects be designed to survive rising sea levels and climate change (FEMA was in the process of soliciting public comment).
The impact of these cuts will not be felt equally. Cuts to emergency preparedness — like the natural disasters themselves — fall particularly hard on the most vulnerable. Communities of color are the most likely to live in neighborhoods that are at risk of flooding. They’re also more likely to live near the petrochemical plants that could discharge toxic substances during the hurricane. According to social vulnerability maps, seniors, people with disabilities, immigrants and people in poverty are all more likely to live in neighborhoods most affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The irony is that the administration is so focused on mass deportation and building a wall that it is openly neglecting real national security risks. FEMA and the US Coast Guard not only respond to natural disasters and protect vulnerable populations; they also respond to terrorist attacks. As with so many other policies, Donald Trump is so focused on chasing his white whale that he’s ignoring the core functions of government.
Editor’s note: The Center for American Progress has launched a coalition of over 20 groups united in pushing back against any cuts to health care, disability benefits, nutrition assistance and other basic living standards in the upcoming congressional budgets. Learn how you can get involved here.
Trump doubles down after being confronted with his claim Biden wants an ‘invasion’ of suburbs
At Wednesday's press conference, President Donald Trump was confronted with his claim that former Vice President Joe Biden would trigger an "invasion" of suburban neighborhoods — widely considered to be a racist dog whistle for affordable housing that will attract more people of color.
“What do you mean by invasion?” the reporter asked.
“They’re going to open up areas of your neighborhoods — they’re going to destroy suburbia,” insisted Trump. He added that "by the way, 30 percent of the people in suburbia are minorities," evidently on the defensive from claims that he was appealing to racism.
Newsweek attacked after editorial column starts a new birther conspiracy about Kamala Harris
Newsweek is being attacked after they ran an opinion column by John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University. "Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility," was the headline.
The opening of the story already speculates that Harris is somehow ineligible for the position because she's also somehow ineligible to be president.
"The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position," said the Chapman University professor. "The 12th Amendment provides that 'no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.' And Article II of the Constitution specifies that '[n]o person except a natural born citizen...shall be eligible to the office of President.' Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris' birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a 'natural born citizen'—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president."
‘Emergency was a sham’: Top Democrat says IG report on Saudi arms deal ‘deeply damning’ for Mike Pompeo
"What sort of emergency makes itself known a few months in advance and can be resolved with weapons delivered years later?"
Rep. Eliot Engel, Democratic chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday that an inspector general report revealed the State Department's claim last year of an "emergency" to sell billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates "was a sham" and accused the department of deploying "scare tactics to try to keep a lid on the report."