President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Houston, Texas, on Friday to survey the damage from the recent historic storm that caused dozens of deaths and extensive property damage.
The president met with Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who has been criticized for his response to the storm, which left millions without power, heat and water for several days. Republican Senator John Cornyn also met with Mr. Biden in Houston. Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who took heat for his trip to Cancun in the middle of the storm, was speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida instead. Mr. Biden delivered remarks at the FEMA vaccination facility at NRG Stadium in Houston.
"As you see, broken hearts in the families that have been left behind, there's nothing partisan about this virus," the president said, noting he met with the Abbott and Cornyn.
The president said the U.S. will hit critical phase in the effort to combat the virus this spring, as vaccines become more widely available but vaccine hesitancy persists.
"We're going to hit a phase of this effort, maybe late April early May, when many predict, there will be ramped up vaccine supply that we will have administered shots to most of the people who really are eager to get them," the president said. "We all know there is a history of this kind of subjugating certain communities to terrible medical and scientific abuse. But if there's one message that needs to cut through all this, the vaccines are safe. I promise you, they are safe and effective."
Earlier in the afternoon, Mr. Biden toured an emergency operations center while the first lady visits a food bank in Houston to package food and water. The president then joined the first lady at the Houston Food Bank for a tour and to meet volunteers.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday that the purpose of Mr. Biden's visit was to get relief to suffering Texans as quickly as possible.
"He views it as an issue where he's eager to get relief, to tap into all the resources in the federal government, to make sure the people of Texas know we're thinking about them, we're fighting for them, and we're going to continue working on this as they're recovering," Psaki said.
Mr. Bidenin Texas last week, as hundreds of thousands went without running water, electricity and heat in frigid temperatures.