If President Joe Biden had taken a trip to Mexico and left home with his pets, do you think the mass media would have noticed that for 77 out of 254 Texas counties, he just declared a major disaster?
Calling for a pal. Yeah, the trip to Cancun by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was not exactly an example of masterful optics, but at least you might argue a few points in his defense.
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First, the situation in the state changed significantly by the time he left. When he hopped a plane to the Yucatán Peninsula, the Associated Press claimed much of the power was back on. Only 325,000 people did not have electricity, as opposed to 3 million at the height of the winter weather emergency. Access to water was the big problem.
In addition, in fact, Cruz had done just what a senator was supposed to do. “He had sent a letter to President Biden together with fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn to “respectfully encourage you to support the Governor’s request for Category B Public Assistance and Direct Federal Assistance for all 254 Texas counties.” As Politico Playbook noted, at this point, this “is the only thing a senator is good for.
But I’m not going to applaud Ted Cruz, who did a pretty serious whoopsie. Instead, I come to wonder why the media have not bothered to look into Biden’s peculiar decision not to declare the entire state a major disaster, not just the 77 counties he did.
The disaster declaration signed by Biden includes major population centers in the region around Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, according to The Dallas Morning News, although it is not what Cruz, Cornyn, or Texas Gov.
They wanted Greg Abbott. It is also critical because the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s assistance and other government arms will help storm victims get back on their feet with grants that cover items like temporary accommodation and home repairs.
So, what’s the logic behind restricting the declaration of emergency?
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, speaking on ABC News ‘”This Week” on Sunday, said the administration chose not to declare an emergency for the entire state because it wanted to concentrate on the “hardest hit” regions.
Asked by host Jonathan Karl if Abbott and Biden were “on the same page now” about the emergency declaration, Psaki gave the kind of non-answer response that in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House has become a house specialty.
“We were in very close communication with Governor Abbott. I know that members of our team just talked to him last night. According to an ABC transcript, the president spoke with him just a few days ago and he is getting daily updates from his staff, Psaki said.
Now what is happening here is that a federal disaster declaration was sought by the governor. The president has asked his staff to speed this up. And FEMA decided where the counties should be, where the immediate resources should be focused, where the counties that are affected hardest so that they can guarantee that they get to the people in most need, she continued.
“Now, as your previous report referred to or talked about, that means not only getting people through this emergency, but getting people through the recovery, people who don’t have water, don’t have heating, need a place to stay for a while, that’s what the major disaster statement will help address, or that’s our hope.”
The @WhiteHouse approved a Major Disaster Declaration in 77 Texas counties today. Individuals who sustained losses due to the winter storms and do not have insurance can now apply for federal assistance.
— FEMA (@fema) February 20, 2021