US President Joe Biden is surveying the damage caused by
wildfires in California and Idaho on Monday, where he is expected to promote
his administration’s use of a wartime law to aid in wildfire preparedness.

The Biden administration had activated the Defense
Production Act in early August in order to boost supplies from the US Forest
Service’s primary firehose supplier. This was the second time this law was used,
the first time being to boost COVID vaccine supplies.

The use of the act helped an Oklahoma City nonprofit called
NewView Oklahoma, the provider of the bulk of the US Forest Service’s hoses,
obtain needed supplies to produce and ship 415 miles of firehoses. Biden has
reportedly planned to showcase the move as part of his administration’s efforts
to address yet another devastating wildfire season across the Western US

The president flew first to Boise, where he was to meet with
federal and state fire officials at the National Interagency Fire Center. Later
he was to travel to Sacramento, California, to survey wildfire damage and
deliver remarks about the federal response.

He will end his day in Long Beach for an election-eve event
with California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall vote on

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.

In the 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 — as well 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.

In deep-red Idaho, several opposing groups were leveraging
Biden’s trip as a way to show resistance to his administration. GOP
gubernatorial candidates, an anti-vaccine organization, and a far-right group
were among those urging people to turn out against the president.

Biden’s eleventh-hour election pitch in California comes the
day before voters head to the polls to decide whether to recall Newsom and then
replace him with Republican talk-show host Larry Elder, who’s seen as the
leading GOP alternative, or with any of the dozens of other candidates on the

The White House is trying to turn the corner after a
difficult month consumed by a chaotic and violent withdrawal from Afghanistan
and the surging delta COVID-19 variant that have upended what the president had
hoped would mark a summer in which the nation was finally freed from the

The Biden administration in June laid out a strategy to deal
with the growing wildfire threat, which included hiring more federal
firefighters and implementing new technologies to detect and address fires
quickly. Last month, the president approved a disaster declaration for California,
providing federal aid for the counties affected by the Dixie and River fires.
Just ahead of Monday’s visit he issued another disaster declaration for the
state, this time aimed at areas affected by the Caldor Fire.

(With AP inputs)