The White House announced on Tuesday afternoon that President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Houston on Friday after Texas experienced extreme weather conditions that are continuing to have devastating impacts on the state.
As reported by The Hill, Biden said that he wanted to make a trip to the disaster area, but the White House also said that it was considering the impact of a presidential visit.
Over the weekend, Psaki spoke with ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl on “This Week.”
Psaki said, “He is eager to go down to Texas and show his support…But he’s also very mindful of the fact that it’s not a light footprint for a president to travel to a disaster area. He does not want to take away resources or attention.”
Psaki also said that the White House has been in “close touch” with Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott and that the president is getting regular updates about the situation in Texas.
On Tuesday, Psaki told reporters at a briefing about plans for the president’s finalized trip. “We of course remain in close touch with state and local elected officials to monitor the recovery and, on Friday, the president and first lady will travel to Houston,” Psaki said.
“The president will meet with local leaders to discuss the winter storm relief efforts, progress toward recovery, and the incredible resilience shown by the people of Houston and Texas. While in Texas, the president will also visit a covid health center where vaccines are being distributed.”
She added that details of the trip are still coming together.
NEW: Press secretary Psaki announces Pres. Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Houston Friday in the wake of last week’s historic winter storm that wrought havoc on Texas. https://t.co/zvbTxFwm8B pic.twitter.com/hFtVWXOkDw
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 23, 2021
On Tuesday, Psaki also said that the sheltering operations are declining in states that have been affected by the storm, and that power and transportation have been normalized. She noted, however, that 9.8 million people are still impacted by water problems and are under boil water orders. The federal government has sent over 9 million liters of water to the area in its efforts to provide aid.
As reported by The Daily Wire on February 14,
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Texas on Sunday in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s request and warning on Saturday that residents across every part of the state would face freezing temperatures and “extremely harsh” winter weather in the coming days.
Under the federal emergency declaration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate relief efforts designed to alleviate “hardship and suffering” caused by the winter weather conditions.
“FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures for mass care and sheltering and direct federal assistance will be provided at 75 percent federal funding,” said the Biden administration in a statement Sunday.
The Hill reported that White House officials have been in touch with mayors and county officials in Texas, adding that Biden has had at least two phone calls with Abbott about the emergency. It is unclear whether Biden will meet with the governor on Friday.
Biden also reportedly approved a major disaster declaration in Texas over the weekend. He has approved emergency declarations for Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana due to the intense winter weather.
Biden’s visit to Houston will be his third official trip as president.
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