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California senators ask Congress for $9 billion for wildfire recovery

California senators ask Congress for $9 billion for wildfire recovery
The search for remains in Paradise, Calif. (John Locher / Associated Press)

California needs just more than $9 billion in disaster aid to recover from this fall’s wildfires, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris said in a letter to colleagues Thursday.

“The scale of the destruction from this month’s wildfires is unprecedented…. State and local governments in California are still in the early stages of recovery from this disaster and are still assessing damages and impacts,” the state’s senators said in their letter.

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California is reeling from the Camp fire in Butte County, which killed at least 88 people, burned the entire town of Paradise and destroyed almost 14,000 homes. The Woolsey and Hill fires in Southern California killed three people, destroyed nearly 400 homes and burned 100,000 acres.

Congress is focused on an end-of-year spending package to fund the Department of Homeland Security and several other major agencies, which they need to pass by Dec. 7 to avoid a partial government shutdown.

There is a chance that the spending package will include disaster recovery funding for damage from the fires and several hurricanes that hit other parts of the country, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said.

“We’re still not there yet,” Shelby said.

The total amount needed is still unclear, he said this week.

The senators’ requested amount is in line with what Gov. Jerry Brown, working with local officials, said is needed to help Californians recover.

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