BY: JUSTIN GOMEZ, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — As Texans continue to recover amid the fallout from severe weather that damaged the state’s power grid, leaving millions without electricity and clean drinking water, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden could make a visit there “as soon as this week.”
“He is eager to go down to Texas and show his support,” Psaki told ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl on “This Week.” “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.”
Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday, opening up federal funds to 77 of the state’s 254 counties. Relief can be used for “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” according to the White House.
However, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott originally asked for a declaration for the entire state. After the declaration was announced, Abbott said the “partial approval is an important first step.”
Karl asked Psaki if the president and governor have spoken about the discrepancy and she said that the White House has been in “close touch” with Abbott. She said this declaration was to help those in the hardest hit areas of the Lone Star State.
“What happens here is the governor requested a federal disaster declaration, the president asked his team to expedite that and FEMA determined where the counties should be, where it should focus the immediate resources, where the counties that are hardest hit, so that they can make sure they get the people in most need,” Psaki said.
The severe weather across the country has also created havoc on distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to states that were impacted, delaying 6 million doses, but Psaki told Karl on Sunday that help is on the way.
“We’ve been able to get about 2 million of those 6 million doses out, we expect to rapidly catch up this week, fill that backlog, make sure they’re out to communities, and also meet our deadlines and our timelines of the doses that are due to go out this upcoming week.”
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