Biden discusses climate damage and encourages virus vaccines in Texas –

Biden discusses climate damage and encourages virus vaccines in Texas

HOUSTON (AP) – President Joe Biden’s public empathy is demonstrated in his trip to a major disaster site since taking office just over a month ago. The president and his wife, Jill, are in Texas to examine the damage caused by the severe winter weather and to encourage people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Brutal winter weather across the South over Valentine’s Day weekend hit several states, and Texas suffered the brunt of unusually cold conditions that caused widespread power outages and frozen pipes that exploded and flooded homes. Millions of residents lost heat and running water.

At least 40 people in Texas died as a result of the storm And while the weather has returned to more normal temperatures, more than 1 million residents still have orders to boil their water before drinking..

“The president has made it very clear to us that in crises like this, it is our duty to organize prompt and competent federal support for American citizens, and we have to make sure that bureaucracy and politics don’t get in the way,” Security said National. Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, who accompanied Biden to Houston

Biden planned to meet with local leaders to discuss the storm, relief efforts and progress toward recovery and visit a food bank and meet with volunteers. He would be accompanied by the Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.

While in Houston, the Democratic president also planned to visit a mass coronavirus vaccination center at NRG Stadium that is run by the federal government. Biden commemorated the 50 million COVID-19 vaccination on Thursday since taking office, halfway to his goal of 100 million shots on his 100th day in office. That celebration followed a moment of silence to mark the pace earlier this week of 500,000 deaths in the United States. blamed on disease.

Post-storm debate in Texas has centered on the state maintaining its own power grid and a lack of storm preparedness, including weatherization of key infrastructure. Some state officials initially blamed the blackouts on renewables even though Texas is a heavy consumer of fossil fuels like oil and gas.

Sherwood-Randall said it’s up to Texas how to shore up its public services.

“Fundamentally, the state of Texas has to make the first decision about what kind of energy system it wants to maintain, what kind of energy market it wants to maintain,” he said.

The White House said the purpose of Biden’s visit would be to support, not scold.

“I hope what you will do during this trip today is ask each person you see what they need, how I can help them more,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “And what else can we offer you from the federal government. And it’s important to him that he does it on the ground in person, he has that direct commitment. “

Biden declared a major disaster in Texas and asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to assist in the recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent emergency generators, bottled water, ready-to-eat meals, and blankets.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said in an interview that he did not know what else the federal government could do to help because the failures were at the state level. But Henry, a Republican who is the highest county official in suburban Houston County, said if Biden “thinks it’s important to visit, then come along.”

Biden wanted to make the trip last week, but said at the time that he held back because he did not want his presence and entourage to detract from the recovery effort.

Biden, whose life has been marked by personal tragedy, is known for his ability to empathize with others and their suffering. His first wife and young daughter died in a car collision in 1972. His son, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn planned to join Biden, a spokesman said.

Senator Ted Cruz, an ally of former President Donald Trump and one of the few Republican lawmakers who had opposed Congress certifying Biden’s victory, was in Florida addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference..

Cruz was recently criticized for taking his family to Cancun, Mexico, as millions of Texans were shaking in their unheated homes during the disaster. Cruz later said the trip was a mistake.. Cruz lightly made his misstep in front of the CPAC crowd.

“Orlando is incredible,” he said between laughs and shouts. “It is not as nice as Cancun. But it’s nice. “

Houston was also the destination for Trump’s first presidential visit to a disaster area in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding in August.

Trump, who is not known for his displays of empathy, did not meet with the victims of the storm. on the visit. He returned four days later and urged people who had moved to a shelter to “have a good time.”


Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller and Aamer Madhani contributed reporting.


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