BOISE — President Joe Biden on Monday pointed to wildfires burning through the West to argue for his $3.5 trillion spending plan, calling year-round fires and other extreme weather a climate change reality the nation can no longer ignore.
Biden spoke during a briefing in Boise while visiting the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates the government’s response to wildfires.
Millions of acres of land in several Western states have burned already this year, he noted.
“The reality is we have a global warming problem, a serious global warming problem, and it’s consequential and what’s going to happen is, things are not going to go back,” Biden said.
In his two-day trip, which includes a stop in Colorado on Tuesday, Biden is looking to connect the dots for Americans between the increasing frequency of wildfires in the West — and other extreme weather events around the country — and a need to invest billions in combating climate change as well as in a vast expansion of the social safety net.
The president argued for spending today to lessen the future effects of climate change, as he did during recent stops in Louisiana, New York and New Jersey — all states that suffered millions of dollars in flood damage and scores of deaths following Hurricane Ida.
In Idaho, Biden claimed that every dollar invested in “resilience” will save $6 down the road.
He discussed the administration’s use in early August of a wartime law to boost supplies of fire hoses from the U.S. Forest Service’s primary supplier.
“My message to you is, when we build back, we have to build back better,” Biden said. “It’s not a Democrat thing. It’s not a Republican thing. It’s a weather thing. It’s a reality. It’s serious and we can do this.”
The administration’s use of the Defense Production Act helped an Oklahoma City nonprofit called NewView Oklahoma, which provides the bulk of the U.S. Forest Service’s hoses, obtain needed supplies to produce and ship 415 miles of fire hoses.
During his visit, Biden also met with the Devon Boyer, chairman of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, during a meet-and-greet.
Biden is on his first trip to the west in office. He flew first to Boise, and afterward planned to stop in Sacramento, California, to survey wildfire damage and deliver remarks about the federal response.
He’ll close the day in Long Beach for an election-eve event with California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall vote on Tuesday,
Biden’s Western visit is aimed primarily at drumming up support for his massive $3.5 trillion spending plan by linking it to beating back wildfires and upgrading social programs.