President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE on Thursday told Florida officials including Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Republican politicians: Let OSHA do its job Ben & Jerry's unveils new flavor in support of Cori Bush's public safety reform bill MORE (R) that the federal government intends to pick up “100 percent of the costs” to the county and the state for the response to the deadly collapse of a Surfside, Fla., condo building for 30 days.
“I think there’s more we can do, including I think I have the power, and we’ll know shortly, to be able to pick up 100 percent of the costs for the county and the state for 30 days. I think I’m quite sure I can do that,” Biden said during a briefing with state and local officials in Surfside.
“There’s going to be a lot of pain and anxiety and suffering and even the need for psychological help in the days and months that follow. And so, we’re not going anywhere,” Biden added.
Search and recovery efforts entered their eighth day on Thursday as Biden descended into Surfside, a town neighboring Miami, but were forced to pause due to structural concerns. The death toll rose to 18 on Wednesday with at least 145 people missing following the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South, a 12-story building, last week.
The visit represented Biden’s first to the state of Florida since taking office and was his first meeting with DeSantis since becoming president. Biden received praise from DeSantis for the federal response efforts.
“You recognized the severity of this tragedy from day one and you’ve been very supportive,” DeSantis said to Biden while seated next to him.
“The cooperation has been great, both the municipal and the county have been fantastic and you guys have not only been supportive at the federal level but we’ve had no bureaucracy,” DeSantis continued, directing his comments to Biden. “When we’re dealing with FEMA, we’re literally getting requests routed from local to state to federal in no time.”
“I promise there will be none,” Biden said in response.
The face-to-face encounter was notable because DeSantis is a potential contender for the Republican nomination in 2024. Biden has said he intends to run for a second term, meaning that the two could be direct political foes in the coming months.
However, the mood of the briefing was collaborative and participants sought to put aside politics. Officials uniformly expressed appreciation for the collaboration between the state, local and federal governments in responding to the building collapse.
“We all know that this is an unprecedented, devastating disaster unlike anything anyone has ever seen. It shocked the world and the fact that we’ve all come together is what gives us hope, is what gives us strength and inspiration,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D), who praised both Biden and DeSantis for their leadership.
“We are working together to handle the crisis, to get the answers about what happened here,” she continued, “and we are going to be examining every inch of this catastrophe with the full might of the federal, state and local government to do so.”
At one point, Biden interjected to underscore the importance of showing the nation that officials can come together to cooperate in the face of challenge. Several Democrats and Republicans took part in the briefing, including Florida’s two Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Milley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod MORE and Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles Florida Democrat says vaccines, masks are key to small-business recovery DNC members grow frustrated over increasing White House influence MORE (D-Fla.)
“You know what’s good about this, the way we are cooperating. We’re letting the nation know we can cooperate and when it’s really important, when it’s really important,” Biden said, “we come together. This is life and death.”
“I just got back from 12 days in Europe. They wonder whether we can do this. And we’re doing it. The simple act of everyone doing what needs to be done, and it really makes a difference,” he added.
Updated at 2:43 p.m.