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Biden points to Texas leaders over delay in Beryl aid

President Biden blamed the federal government’s delay in releasing aid to Texas in response to Hurricane Beryl on state leaders, saying they did not make a formal request for a major disaster declaration.

“I’ve been trying to track down the governor to see — I don’t have any authority to do that without a specific request from the governor,” Biden said Tuesday in an interview with the Houston Chronicle.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) is serving as acting governor of the Lone Star State while Gov. Greg Abbott (R) remains abroad. Biden told the Chronicle he “kept tracking the lieutenant governor” and had to reach out to the governor’s office to trigger the formal request.

Biden and Patrick ultimately connected Tuesday, and Patrick made the formal declaration, which the president then approved.

The lieutenant governor said during a Tuesday press conference that there was “total teamwork” between federal, state and local officials. He added there was “no delay from the White House, no delay from us.”

“The truth is, before you can ask for a declaration you have to go meet with people in the impacted areas to see what’s needed and the level of need,” Patrick said at the press conference, the Chronicle reported.

Abbott’s press secretary, Andrew Mahaleris, responded to Biden’s remarks, writing in a statement shared with The Hill, “This is a complete lie from President Biden, and frankly doesn’t make any sense.”

“The President and his Administration know exactly how to get in contact with the Governor and have on numerous occasions in the past,” Mahaleris said, noting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell spoke with the governor last Friday.

“The State of Texas has been working closely with FEMA and other federal partners ahead of and throughout the storm to get the support Texas needs. The State of Texas had all necessary disaster declarations in place well before today, despite what President Biden said,” he added.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for further comment.

Beryl pummeled through eastern Texas, causing millions of residents in Houston and nearby areas to lose power and experience flooding. On Monday, tracked 2.7 million residents without power. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 1.7 million customers still remain without power.

More than 1,300 flights were canceled and hundreds more delayed earlier this week as the storm crossed Texas.

—Updated at 3:47 p.m.

Source: The Hill

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