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Congress Appoves More Money To Fight Wildfires

A House committee voted today to provide an extra $700 million-dollars for battling wildfires that have raged across more than three million acres this year, mostly in the West.

The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee approved the funds by voice vote, even though lawmakers and aides said the Bush administration opposes the extra money. Legislators said the White House believes federal agencies have all the resources they need.

Wisconsin Democrat David Obey suggested the White House Office of Management and Budget, quote, “smell the smoke and recognize this is a serious problem.”

The nearly 3.1 million acres burned so far this year are more than double the 1.3 million acre average to date over the last decade. Especially huge blazes have burned in Arizona and Colorado. One forced evacuations of thousands last week at Lake Tahoe.

The new money would be on top of more than $2.2 billion dollars enacted last fall for this year´s anticipated firefighting costs. Though little opposition to the extra money was expressed, several Republicans blamed this season´s spate of wildfires on federal environmental policies that they say have discouraged logging and clearing of dead timber.