White House, DeSantis put politics aside amid Hurricane Ian response
The White House on Monday said any political strife with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will not affect its response to Hurricane Ian, which is expected to batter the state in the coming days.
“What the president believes is that it’s important that federal resources is provided for the people of Florida. That is the most important thing, to make sure that we are there for them in this time of need,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a briefing.
“It’s about the people of Florida. It’s not about public officials, especially in this time,” she added.
Biden over the weekend approved an emergency declaration in more than 20 counties in Florida to proactively surge resources to those areas and coordinate disaster relief between the state, local and federal governments.
The White House has repeatedly criticized DeSantis over the last two weeks after the governor flew migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, seeking to elevate the issue of immigration and place some of the burden of migration onto so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that do not comply with federal immigration officials.
White House officials have called the move a “political stunt” and derided DeSantis, who is seen as a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, for using migrants as political props.
But the administration was adamant on Monday that any strife with DeSantis would not hinder the federal response to a natural disaster, even if there is no direct contact with the governor. Jean-Pierre said Biden had not spoken with DeSantis about the impending storm.
She noted that Biden also did not have direct contact with Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) about the water crisis in Jackson but that the federal government still surged resources and personnel to the area to try to address the problem.
For his part, DeSantis told reporters on Sunday that he’s been in regular contact with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell as the storm approaches, and he thanked the administration for being “ready to help.”
Forecasters expect Hurricane Ian to peak at a Category 4 storm, then weaken a bit before it makes landfall in Florida. Hillsborough County officials on Monday began ordering some Tampa area residents to evacuate ahead of the storm’s arrival.