President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration for Florida a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis' request despite DeSantis' repeated attacks on the administration.
President Joe Biden has provided federal aid to the state of Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian and has deployed resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist residents in the area.
In a rare moment of unity facing an impending natural disaster, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis praised Biden for the actions he has taken to help Florida residents.
Biden spoke to DeSantis on Thursday morning to discuss the details of federal assistance.
"I've also directed FEMA Administrator [Deanne] Criswell to travel to Florida tomorrow to check in on response and survey where additional support is needed," Biden noted in a tweet.
Biden approved a federal declaration that a major disaster exists in Florida. The declaration makes federal funds available to counties in the states that have been affected by the storm.
"Assistance can include 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," the White House noted.
Before the storm made landfall, the White House said, Biden made phone calls to local Florida leaders, including the mayors of Sarasota, Cape Coral and Fort Myers, as well as the chair of Charlotte County.
Biden also spoke to DeSantis on Wednesday and noted at a White House event that day, "I made it clear to the governor and the mayors that the federal government is ready to help in every single way possible," adding, "When the storm passes, the federal government is going to be there to help you recover. ... We'll be there at every step of the way."
Directing his comments to Florida residents, Biden said the storm was "life-threatening" and advised them to "obey all warnings and directions from emergency officials."
Also before landfall, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, "The President wanted to relay that his prayers are with the people of Florida and that Florida will have the full force of the federal government. Again, we are committed to continued close coordination between the federal and state government as we respond to this emergency."
Biden's disaster declaration on Thursday came a day after DeSantis made a formal request to the federal government.
While delivering an update on the response to the storm, DeSantis said, "I told him thanks for this" in reference to the declaration. DeSantis also noted that Biden had "offered support" to the state.
Mediaite reported that in an overnight appearance on Fox News, where he has been a frequent guest, DeSantis told host Sean Hannity, "It's my sense that the administration wants to help. I think [Biden] realizes that this is a really significant storm and there's a lot of people that — we're working with the locals. We work very well with them."
DeSantis has been widely discussed as a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2024, and he has spent much of the last year engaging in attacks on the Biden administration and against Biden personally.
In September, DeSantis organized an airlift of 48 asylum-seekers, taking them from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The Biden administration criticized DeSantis' actions, comparing them to what "smugglers" do.
The Biden administration and DeSantis have clashed over many issues, including COVID-19 vaccinations and Florida's anti-LGBTQ "Don't Say Gay Law." Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona described the latter as an attempt to "bully marginalized students."
In November 2021, DeSantis signed legislation against vaccine mandates, and, as NBC News reported, he chose to hold the signing ceremony in Brandon, Florida, seemingly a nod to the use by Biden opponents of the phrase "Let's go Brandon" as a stand-in for "Fuck Joe Biden." DeSantis has referred to the Biden administration as "the Brandon administration."
Biden's rapid response to DeSantis' disaster requests, despite the ongoing barrage of attacks against him and his administration by the Florida governor, stands in contrast to the actions of former President Donald Trump, a DeSantis ally, in similar situations.
In 2017, after Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, Trump publicly disputed death tolls released by the Puerto Rican government and engaged in repeated attacks against the mayor of San Juan after she spoke up about problems the island faced after the natural disasters.
"They want everything to be done for them," Trump complained.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.