President Donald Trump told The Hill on Thursday that he’ll cut $10.5 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) budget and end $6 billion in new funding for states to fight the wildfires.
The president made the announcement during an Oval Office meeting with top aides, as wildfires continue to rage across the Southeast.
Trump said the funds will be used to help states prepare for the devastating effects of the blazes.
He said the cuts would be made immediately, without any new spending for the agency.
The cuts are likely to cause some damage to state and local governments that have received billions in federal aid, said Mark Palumbo, president of the National Association of Counties.
He warned that any changes could have a huge impact on the economic health of the state.
Trump’s announcement came as the White House pushed forward with plans to spend $2.5 trillion in emergency funds in 2017.
The White House has said it hopes to find savings to balance its $20 trillion debt in the coming years, but lawmakers are already debating how to do so.
Trump announced in a news conference Thursday that the White and congressional leaders are working on a plan to increase federal spending to $10 trillion over 10 years.
The president said he’d like to spend an additional $4.2 trillion in 2017 and 2018, and to double that total in 2019 and 2020.
The $10-trillion figure is lower than the $13.2 billion that Trump had originally proposed, which would have required him to spend almost twice as much in 2017 as he’s spent in the past two years.
He’s expected to announce a plan this week for another $2 trillion over the next decade.
Trump made his comments in response to a question about whether he’ll release his tax returns to show he’s being audited.
The tax-reform proposal that Trump is proposing would not require Congress to approve the release of his returns.