President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Houston on Friday as Texas reels from its devastating winter storms, the White House said Tuesday.
The announcement came days after Biden declared a major disaster for much of Texas, unlocking federal funds to aid those affected by lengthy power outages and freezing temperatures. At least 70 people have died, but the death toll is thought to be severely underreported.
Biden said last week he wanted to ensure his visit to Texas wouldn’t complicate any relief efforts.
“I don’t want to be a burden. When the president lands in any city in America, it has a long tail,” he said.
“In the meantime, the President has asked FEMA to do everything it can to rapidly distribute aid to the state of Texas,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “So far, more than 1 million meals have been shipped to Texas. More than 4 million liters of water have been shipped to Texas.”
The Department of Defense is delivering water in bulk to multiple locations, she added, along with emergency generators and blankets.
This will be Biden’s first visit to a disaster site since taking office last month.
Former President Donald Trump’s such trips often devolved into public relations disasters, from tossing paper towels at Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico to telling California’s wildfire-ravaged communities they needed to rake their forests more. Trump also regularly threatened to withhold disaster relief from states and treated disaster visits like campaign stops.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of Trump’s most steadfast supporters, is also in hot water for leaving the state during the storm and flying to Cancún while his constituents literally froze to death.