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Peter DeFazio

09/15/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/15/2020 18:38

DeFazio Applauds White House Approval of Major Disaster Declaration for Oregon

Rep. Peter DeFazio today applauded President Trump's approval of Governor Kate Brown's request for an expedited Major Disaster declaration for Oregon.

DeFazio received confirmation from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that President Trump signed the declaration this afternoon on Air Force One.

'The damage from the wildfires across Oregon is catastrophic, and the scale of the recovery is beyond the capabilities of the state,' said DeFazio. 'I'm grateful for the White House's swift action in declaring a Major Disaster. This decision will make more Federal aid available for survivors of the fires and give communities the resources they need to start to rebuild.'

On Tuesday, DeFazio led Oregon's bipartisan Congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici in urging rapid approval of Oregon Governor Kate Brown's request for the Major Disaster declaration amid unprecedented wildfire damage across the state.

Oregon's congressional delegation united last week to push for White House approval of the state's request for an Emergency declaration and the associated Federal funding for immediate response and relief efforts. The Emergency request was approved roughly a day later, providing critical FEMA assistance to support Oregon communities and first responders.

BACKGROUND

DeFazio is Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) response and recovery authorities under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act). As Chair, he oversees FEMA's activities relating to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery, as well as Federal assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial emergency managers and first responders.

DeFazio's role puts him in a unique position to work with congressional leaders, the White House, and the heads of Federal departments to help Oregon respond to and recover from the 2020 wildfires that are currently ravaging the state. Last week, after receiving a briefing from the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service, state fire marshals, and first responders, DeFazio connected with Governor Kate Brown to encourage her to request a Major Disaster declaration from the White House, in addition to her already pending request for an Emergency declaration. That same day, he spoke with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows supporting the Emergency request and stressing the need for an eventual Major Disaster, which would include more Federal assistance for disaster survivors. He also reached out to President Trump and FEMA Administrator Gaynor urging a swift approval of the Governor's request. The following day, Trump approved the Emergency declaration for Oregon.

In addition, DeFazio has regularly attended interagency briefings on the Holiday Farm Fire response and has traveled to Roseburg, OR to meet with and hear from responders to the Archie and French Creek fires. He was also able to help the US Forest Service secure much-needed aerial imagery to help combat the fires.