After granting relief to winter storm-torn Texas earlier this week, President Joe Biden on Thursday offered the state and its neighbors additional resources as needed, the White House said – a noticeable departure from former President Donald Trump’s approach to disaster relief and a sign of how Biden will handle relationships with even Republican governors.
Biden spoke by phone with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, about the winter storm that has left hundreds of thousands of Texas residents without power and many lacking food and water, according to a readout released by the White House.
The readout says Biden told Abbott the federal government will “continue to work hand-in-hand with state and local authorities” and promised to “instruct federal agencies to look into any immediate steps that could be taken to support Texans.”
Biden added that his administration is “at the ready should the State of Texas or any other impacted region need additional federal disaster support or assistance,” according to the readout.
Abbott has positioned himself as an early adversary to Biden, signing an executive order just eight days into the president’s term to “direct every state agency to use all lawful powers and tools to challenge any federal action” that jeopardizes Texas’ energy sector.
Trump frequently framed disaster through a partisan or ideological lens. Last April, he suggested coronavirus relief should include “sanctuary city adjustments” as a way of punishing more liberal municipalities for pro-immigration policies.
Former Homeland Security official Miles Taylor even alleged in September that Trump temporarily withheld wildfire aid to California in 2018 over his hatred of the state’s Democratic governor and that “people in the state of California didn’t support him” – though a senior administration had told Forbes in August it was because of the state’s “radical environmental policies.”
“I joined with John Cornyn in urging Joe Biden to declare a federal disaster to mirror the governor’s request – which President Biden, to his credit, did,” Cruz, also a vocal opponent of the Biden administration, said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
440,000. That’s roughly how many Texans were still lacking power as of Thursday afternoon, with over 12 million still facing difficulties with water service amid freezing temperatures, according to NBC News.
During a closed-door meeting with state and local officials of both parties, Biden did not push back when Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, expressed opposition to Biden’s desire to have a minimum wage hike as part of a coronavirus relief package, according to Politico. Biden was attempting to corral bipartisan support for his plan.