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Biden points to wildfires 'supercharged' by climate change to push for big rebuild

President Biden is also expected to join California Governor Gavin Newsom in Long Beach at a rally ahead of the recall election.
Credit: AP
President Joe Biden speaks at Brookland Middle School, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 in Washington. Biden has encouraged every school district to promote vaccines, including with on-site clinics, to protect students as they return to school amid a resurgence of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Update: 4:40 p.m.

President Joe Biden is using his first Western swing since taking office to hold out the wildfires burning across the region as an argument for his $3.5 trillion rebuilding plans. 

He is calling year-round fires and other extreme weather a climate change reality the nation can no longer ignore. 

With stops Monday in Idaho and California, Biden sought to boost support for his big rebuilding plans, saying every dollar spent on “resilience” would save $6 in future costs. And he said the rebuilding must go beyond simply restoring damaged systems and instead ensure communities can withstand catastrophic weather that doesn’t strike based on partisan ideology. 

Biden emphasized the plan following his aerial tour of the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County. He said decades of forest management decisions have created disastrous conditions for wildfires that are being "supercharged" by climate change.

The president added that extreme weather last year cost America $99 billion and that the country is expected to exceed that this year.

Update: 3:00 p.m.

President Biden arrived at the California Office of Emergency Services where he was briefed on the Caldor Fire and the heroic efforts of firefighters.

Biden spoke to the valor of firefighters and made note that federal firefighters could see a pay raise by way of an executive order.

"We owe them. We owe them a whole hell of a lot more," Biden said at the Cal OES briefing.

Biden also pointed to wildfires burning through the West to argue for his $3.5 trillion rebuilding plans. He is calling year-round fires and other extreme weather a climate change reality the nation can no longer ignore. 

He was also setting out on an aerial tour of fire damage.  

WATCH MORE: President Biden speaks during his visit to Sacramento

Credit: AP
President Joe Biden speaks during a briefing on wildfires at the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Mather, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Update: 2:45 p.m.

President Joe Biden officially landed at Sacramento Mather Airport on Monday.

President Biden's stop in California comes amid a devastating wildfire season. He'll be touring the damage left behind from the Caldor Fire. 

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom called for Biden to approve a major disaster declaration for the Caldor Fire. At one point, the wildfire in El Dorado County forced more than 50,000 evacuations across three counties. It destroyed hundreds of homes.

Biden also flew to Boise, Idaho, on Monday to visit the federal center that coordinates the nation's response to wildfires as he argues for his $3.5 trillion spending plan.

Biden's plan includes measures to lessen the effects of climate change. He says year-round wildfires and other changing weather patterns are a “reality” that can no longer be ignored. Biden also promoted steps the administration took to produce more firehoses.


United States President Joe Biden will be stopping in Sacramento Monday as he tours the West Coast amid a devastating fire season

President Biden will receive a fire briefing from officials at the California Office of Emergency Service in Mather on Monday, according to a schedule the White House released Sunday night. Afterwards, he is planning for an aerial tour of the Caldor Fire damage area.  Biden is scheduled to conclude with a speech on rebuilding, climate change and his infrastructure plan.

Biden approved an emergency declaration for the Caldor Fire in early September.  The declaration opens up funding sources for local governments and fire victims. The president previously approved disaster declarations for the Dixie and River fires.

He is scheduled to tour the National interagency Fire Center in Boise earlier Monday.  White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy told KTVB Biden will discuss his Build Back Better Agenda and advocate for clean energy jobs as a solution to mitigate clime change. 

Wildfires won't be the only thing on the president's agenda for the day. Biden is scheduled to join Governor Gavin Newsom in Long Beach at a rally ahead of the California recall election.

Biden is the biggest name the Newsom campaign has called in to rally support for the governor. Recently, the campaign brought in Vice President Kamala Harris, who is from California, for a campaign event. She urged voters to reject the recall and defend the Democratic Party's progressive values during an appearance on Wednesday.

The campaign stop will take place after Biden stops in Sacramento to tour the wildfire damage. According to a recent Berkeley IGS poll, Newsom appears poised to stave off the recall effort.

Why is Biden coming to Sacramento?

The Biden administration previously approved Major Disaster Declarations for both the Dixie Fire and the River Fire, and on Friday, the governor sent a request for the president to approve a disaster declaration for the Caldor Fire.

The River Fire impacted Nevada and Placer counties and forced thousands of people out of their homes. It burned about 2,400 acres. The Dixie Fire impacted communities across five different counties and could be on its way to becoming the largest wildfire in state history. To date, it has burned nearly 960,000 acres.

A disaster declaration for the Caldor Fire would follow an emergency declaration that the Biden administration recently approved.

(Editor's Note: This article has been updated with new information about President Biden's trip.)

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WATCH ALSO:  Caldor Fire: 27 days away, evacuees return home to White Hall

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