Biden to travel to Texas on Friday
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Houston on Friday in the wake of extreme winter weather that knocked out power across the state and left dozens dead.
The White House announced the travel plans on Tuesday afternoon. Biden said last week he wanted to travel to Texas as soon as this week, but the White House had said that it was considering the potential footprint of a trip to the disaster-stricken area.
The Houston visit will represent Biden’s third official trip as president.
“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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing. “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.”
Psaki did not specify with which state leaders in particular Biden will meet. She said Biden will also visit a health center where coronavirus vaccines are being distributed.
Biden approved a major disaster declaration in Texas over the weekend after approving emergency declarations for Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana amid the surge in winter weather.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last week sent generators, blankets, meals and water to Texas amid widespread power outages in the state. Millions were left without power last week for several days and many were without water as well.
Biden has been briefed regularly on the storm and related outages, according to the White House, and White House officials have been in touch with mayors and county officials in Texas. He has held at least two phone calls with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) regarding the emergency. It is unclear whether Biden will meet with Abbott on Friday.
Psaki said Tuesday that sheltering operations are decreasing in the states impacted by the storm and power and transportation have returned to normal. However, she noted that 9.8 million people continue to be affected by water issues and are under orders to boil their water. The federal government has sent more than 9 million liters of water to the area as part of its response, Psaki said.
Over the weekend on ABC’s “This Week,” Psaki said Biden was “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,” she added.
Updated at 1:21 p.m.
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