Politics

President Joe Biden To Visit Houston On Friday After Winter Storm

First Lady Jill Biden will also make the trip.

Joe Biden at the National Education Association presidential forum in Houston on July 5, 2019.

Updated 2:25 p.m. CT

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden plans to come to Texas on Friday in the wake of extensive winter storm damage in the state.

The president and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Houston, according to a White House announcement. Biden has engaged from afar with state and local officials but stated a reluctance to come to Texas too soon because he didn’t want his traveling entourage to pull resources from the crisis at hand.

"When the president lands in a city in America it has a long tail," he told reporters on Friday.

At a briefing soon after the announcement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden would “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.”

“While in Texas, the president will also visit a COVID health center where vaccines are being distributed,” she said.

Psaki said more details of the trip are coming together and that the White House will have further information soon.

The move comes after days of public gestures from Houston-area elected officials, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, who on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday said a visit from Biden would not be a distraction in the city.

Turner has credited the president for getting a federally supported COVID-19 mass vaccination site up and running at NRG Park, which is scheduled to vaccinate at least 126,000 people beginning Wednesday.

​”The fact that the president is coming does demonstrate even more so that Texas is on his mind, Houston is on his mind, and I want to thank him for coming,” Turner said.

Over the weekend, Biden approved a major disaster declaration for more than 100 Texas counties. A major disaster declaration, requested by Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, allows for a wide range of federal assistance to support repairs for individuals and infrastructure. (Read how Texans can apply for federal assistance here.)

Last week’s winter storm caused billions of dollars of damage across the state. Millions of Texas went prolonged periods without power or clean water amid freezing temperatures. Dozens of deaths have been reported, though state officials say it could be weeks or months before an official death toll is known.

Patrick Svitek contributed reporting. Additional reporting by Matt Harab of Houston Public Media.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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