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tv   Senator Wyden on Wildfires  CSPAN  September 14, 2017 9:37am-9:52am EDT

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resources. and finally, after a month of record-breaking hurricanes and historic wildfires, it's beyond time to have a discussion. in montana there are still 21 fire burning and many monday mondays that need help. over the coming weeks and months, as we take steps for other natural disasters around the country. we need to work together to not only help those in desperate need, but move forward with long-term solutions. solutions that will help us deal with the ka catastrophes, whether it's floods, hurricanes, droughts or wildfires. if we get that done we will have done our job in the united states senate.
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mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest-- >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i'm going to talk first about the devastating fires that are pounding my state and then i'm going to talk about the new legislation introduced earlier by our colleague senator graham, senator cassidy and senator heller. with respect to the fires, i spent much of last weekend essentially going from one base camp to another visiting six counties, to get updates at fire camps and emergency operations are? . in these travels, i saw major fires burning in oregon from our northern border with washington state to our southern border with california. two of these fires were so
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large they cover more than one county by-- i believe it was important to visit both their eastern and their western fronts. doing so in each case took almost two hours driving from just one side of the fire to the other. of the 1.5 million acres burning in the west last weekend almost 500,000 were burning in my home state alone. now there are 17 fires burning in oregon, thousands of oregonians are evacuated and thousands of firefighters from oregon and all over this country have been putting themselves in harm's way to help oregon ballot these infernos. from the columbia river george
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on the washington border to oregon's southwest corner hundreds of miles away on the california border, i felt it was an enormous honor just to be able to say thank you to the thousands of hard-working men and women who are battling these life threatening blazes. i met with emergency service responders on the eagle creek fire in the gorge. the checkco bar fire. that stretch across jackson and josephine county. the fire in lane county and miller complex fire in jackson county. in each of these settings i met men and women who exemplify what i call the oregon way. the oregon way isn't written down anywhere, it isn't a law
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or a rule, it's an ethic, an ethic where oregonians step up and make sure that friends and neighbors aren't in jeopardy and it's all about oregonians staying on the job until it's finished. i was moved by the presence of those from all over the country who came to our state, sometimes from thousands, thousands of meals away, helped save oregon treasures. people from california, arizona, all the way to the east coast and many points in between came to oregon to help out. and it was just stunning, mr. chairman, to meet folks from florida, who while worrying about their friends and loved ones in the path of hurricane irma were up and
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working on our natural disaster, which is wildfire. to get this job done right for generations to come, you have to recognize the inescapable proposition that the fires are betting hotter, they're getting bigger and they're getting much more dangerous to fight. in one example i heard how the eagle creek fire raced 13 miles in 15 hours and it burned with such ferociousness and in high winds that a jumped the columbia river, jumped the river, to start a fire on the washington side of the fwo gorg and those who aren't familiar,
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how vast this is. a river certainly as large as the columbia acts as a natural fire break. mr. president, these fires we're seeing today are not normal fires. these are not your grandfather's fires. these are gargantuan, dangerous fires. i haven't seen anything like it. along with my friends. been on the natural resources committees for a long time. this year is on top to be the worst fire system in history in terms of total acres burning. it was reported with dozens of fires that spread across the west, an area larger than the size of maryland has been burned straight through. mr. president, the way the
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federal government has historical paid for fighting fires is just plain wrong. and it leads to a cycle that adds fuel to these structurally dangerous fires. now, i've been on this floor raising this issue. i've served, mr. chairman in the national resources committee not too long ago. our committee is heard in hearings again and again, about the dangerous and fires posed to our community. but the system for funding fire prevention in a timely way before our country has to spend so much more money for putting the fires out, it hasn't been fixed. that system is still broken. as we discussed it here today. last week, i came to the senate
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floor and talked about this subject. the same day congress passed legislation to keep the government open for three more months to provide aids for the economic efforts because of hurricane harvey. and that to ensure the forest service can rebuild, forced to borrow from fire prevention accounts to fight the fires now. but that funding, certainly necessary now, doesn't fix the long-term problem. the congress must make sure the forest service as the resources it needs to treat the forest, before they burned. help deal with this issue before the forest burned because that's for flame resistance, and stronger in
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terms of the capacity to deal particularly with the heat and lightning strikes into a building. so let me layout the steps that congress needs to take in the coming days. first, the congress needs to look in disaster funding to those these communities devastated by wildfires back on their feet. they are facing destroyed homes and businesses. recreational areas that are the life blood of a lot of communities has been destroyed. they lost effort in the cleanup and restoration efforts is going to be tough and costly. that's step one on the to-do list. step two is faking the broken, budget systems known in the west as fire borrowing, that the government spends more on fighting fire, it has stolen in the past funds that are
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supposed to go to fire revex. so the money isn't there to sput out the dead and dying material. it's om get to get worse as it's wreaking havoc across the nation. it's gone on for years and leading to bigger, more threatening fires, and it is critical that this congress put a stop to it. other parts of our nation face horrible natural dass-- disasters in the last several weeks. the way they pay is like funding emergency hurricane response teams with the money
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that's supposed to pay for levees and sand bags for the next storm. the practice of borrowing that has plagued so many western communities, just defies come on sense. years ago, along with my colleague from idaho, senator crapo, i introduced him to the problem with the wildfire dass sister and funding act. senator crapo and i feels like we've been at it longer than the trojan war. we've within after it year after year and now the groups and experts, folks in the forestry injury. environment folks and scientists. chairman has another bill that builds on this work that we've
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done for years. i support this sensible proposal as well. the bottom line is the west cannot wait any longer for congress to send them to help and repair for the long-term, which is fixing this probing broken system that short changes prevention and adds fuel to the raging wild fire. there is by partisan-- and senators across the west where the fire is burning are going on tours that i went on last weekend. i'm sure they missed, as i did, these incredibly dedicated gray gus firefighters for working themselves to exhaustion. and i'm sure we've heard from many of the same types of operation teams about the
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fights they're facing. those men and women on the front lines fighting fire with fire, they're doing their part. it is time for the congress, let's make sure that our communities have the funds they need to fight fires, put the fires out, and then once and for all, let us end this bizarre common sense defying budget process called fire borrowing that in effect, the federal government consistency shorting prevention and then having to spend more down the road when you have these enormous fires as a result of facts. that you haven't gone in there to clean out that material. >> arms services committee
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chair john mccain announce add agreement to add 48 amendments to the bill pending in the senate and says there's an impasse on four important amendments that likely need cloture votes. he's followed by armed services member, jack reed. >> mr. president, i modify my amendment with changes at the desk. the amendment is still modified. >> a pressure, again want to thank my friend, colleague, senator jack reed for continued cooperation, i has characterized our work together. first, i'd like to say the modifications, substitution to the smaement that i'm offering, the risk, with senator reed, with 48 amendments with both


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