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Walden hopeful for fire bill’s passage
As fires continue burning thousands of acres across Oregon, Rep. Greg Walden is optimistic that Congress can pass a bipartisan bill to help save money and restructure the way the U.S. funds firefighting efforts.
Though senators and representatives are currently in recess, Walden, R-Hood River, joins other lawmakers hoping to fund firefighting efforts much like other emergencies.
“We’re building some momentum and now it’s just a matter of time,” Walden said.
In February, Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson and Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader introduced the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act in the House. The bill aims to end what cosponsors call the robbing of the non-fire accounts to pay for wildfire suppression when costs exceed an agency’s wildfire budget.
Walden said during a visit to La Grande last week that $700 million had been allocated for wildfire suppression and that Oregon firefighting efforts ate up about $238 million in the past couple weeks.
“We know at some point if they burn through the $700 million, they’ll go to these other funds,” Walden said.
For the complete story, see Monday's edition of The Observer.