Posts Mislead on Biden’s Response to Texas Emergency
By Angelo Fichera
Posted on February 19, 2021
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Texas after a winter storm began wreaking havoc, and held a call with its governor as the state experienced power outages. But Facebook posts misleadingly claim there has not been “one word” on the emergency from Biden.
On Feb. 14, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Texas following the start of a severe winter storm that crippled the state.
Yet thousands of Facebook users have shared posts implying that Biden has ignored the matter.
“4 million freezing Texans without power…not one word from Joe!” one Feb. 17 post, shared more than 4,000 times, reads. Another post from the same day, shared by more than 3,000 users, similarly says: “4 million without power and not a peep from Joe. Anyone surprised?”
We didn’t find direct, public remarks from Biden about the crisis in Texas prior to Feb. 17 — such as, say, on Twitter or during his Feb. 16 CNN town hall event. But the claims mislead by disregarding the fact that he approved the emergency declaration days earlier — and also held a Feb. 16 call with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and the governors from six other states, to discuss the extreme weather conditions.
“President Biden relayed to the governors that he understood the severity of the conditions being felt across the states, and that he and the First Lady were praying for swift recovery from the effects of the storm,” a White House readout of his call says. “President Biden reiterated to all the governors that his Administration is prepared to assist and stands ready to respond to requests for Federal assistance from the governors and will deploy any additional Federal emergency resources available to assist the residents of their states in getting through this historic storm.”
As for the emergency declaration, Abbott requested that designation on Feb. 13 and Biden approved the measure the next day, thereby allowing federal funds and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid in the response.
By Feb. 16 — the day of Biden’s call with governors — the weather had taken its toll on Texas’ energy infrastructure and left more than 4 million without power. As of early Feb. 19, there were about 192,000 still without electricity in Texas, according to PowerOutage.US.
It’s also worth noting that on Feb. 17, Vice President Kamala Harris began an interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show by remarking on the situation on behalf of her and Biden.
“I just want to mention all of those folks in Texas and the mid-Atlantic,” Harris said. “I know they can’t see us right now, because they’re without electricity, but the president and I are thinking of them, and really hope that we can do everything that is possible, through the signing of the emergency orders, to get federal relief to support them.”
On Feb. 18, Biden’s official presidential Twitter account tweeted: “Jill and I are keeping Texas, Oklahoma, and other impacted states in our prayers. I’ve declared states of emergency, authorized FEMA to provide generators and supplies, and am ready to fulfill additional requests. Please heed the instructions of local officials and stay safe.”
Biden, Joe (@POTUS). “Jill and I are keeping Texas, Oklahoma, and other impacted states in our prayers. I’ve declared states of emergency, authorized FEMA to provide generators and supplies, and am ready to fulfill additional requests. Please heed the instructions of local officials and stay safe.” Twitter. 14 Feb 2021.
“Governor Abbott Announces Approval Of Federal Emergency Declaration For Severe Winter Weather.” Office of the Texas Governor. 14 Feb 2021.
“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves Texas Emergency Declaration.” White House. 14 Feb 2021.
“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves Oklahoma Emergency Declaration.” White House. 18 Feb 2021.
“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves Louisiana Emergency Declaration.” White House. 18 Feb 2021.
“Readout of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Call With Governors of States Impacted by Severe Winter Weather.” White House. Factba.se. 16 Feb 2021.
“Readout of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Call with Governor Greg Abbott of Texas.” White House. 18 Feb 2021.
Stelloh, Tim, et al. “Millions in Texas without power as deadly storm brings snow, freezing weather.” NBC News. 16 Feb 2021.
Stump, Scott. “Kamala Harris talks schools reopening: ‘Teachers should be a priority’ for vaccinations.’” TODAY. 17 Feb 2021.