SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – California Governor Jerry Brown asked the federal government for aid related to damage from winter storms. But it’s up to one person to decide whether California gets federal emergency funds, and that person is President Donald Trump.
KPIX 5 political analyst Melissa Caen said only the president makes this decision. There is no higher power, which could make the state’s battles against Mr. Trump awkward.
The request comes as Brown and other California politicians have made it clear time and time again that California can and will go its own way when it comes to the Trump administration’s agenda.
For example, just two months ago, Brown said if Trump scraps climate research satellites, California would “launch its own damn satellite.”
But on Friday, Brown sent a letter to the White House asking the president to declare the situation in California a major disaster, that way the state can get some emergency federal funds.
It is possible that Trump will take this opportunity to remind Brown of California’s independent streak, and say no or approve a limited declaration.
Caen said the previous administrations have denied emergency requests. For example, President Barack Obama said no to Florida Gov. Rick Scott when he requested FEMA help with an algae problem. Mr. Obama also refused to declare a federal emergency over the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
When the president says no, there’s only one thing a governor can do, file an appeal with the president.
It is unclear if Trump would issue a denial. He hasn’t said anything publicly yet and he could simply deem the flood a major disaster without any issue.
There are also some powerful California Republicans in Congress, such as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who could lobby on the state’s behalf.
Dr. Ahsha Tribble, the acting FEMA Regional Administrator weighed in, saying, “Ultimately, the President has the final say in who and how disaster declarations get approved.”
Congressman Tom McClintock is a Republican whose district has been hit hard by the flooding and he says expects that Trump will approve the request.
He also said he think Brown’s full blown opposition of Trump isn’t helping.
“I don’t think he’s doing honor for the state of California, but that’s between him and the voters,” McClintock said.
California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have written to Trump in support of Brown’s request.
McClintock said there are additional letters circulating around California, penned by both Democratic and Republican legislators, urging Trump to declare the situation an emergency.