President Joe Biden is visiting Houston on Friday to address two dire situations: the aftermath of last week’s winter storm and the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will visit Houston for the president’s first trip to a major disaster site since he took office last month.
In Houston, Biden is expected to meet with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and local leaders to discuss the storm that knocked out power and water to millions of Texans, as well as the road to recovery.
The Bidens will also visit a food bank and meet volunteers before heading to a mass COVID-19 vaccination center at NRG Stadium that is run by the federal government.
Here’s a closer look at Friday’s schedule for the president and first lady:
- 8:40 a.m.: The president and the first lady depart the White House en route to Joint Base Andrews.
- 9 a.m.: The Bidens depart Joint Base Andrews for Houston.
- Noon: The Bidens arrive in Houston. This event will be livestreamed in this article.
- 12:50 p.m.: The first lady visits the Houston Food Bank.
- 12:55 p.m.: Biden tours the Harris County Emergency Operations Center.
- 2:20 p.m.: The president and the first lady tour the Houston Food Bank and meet volunteers. This event will be livestreamed in this article.
- 5 p.m.: Biden delivers remarks at the FEMA COVID-19 vaccination facility at NRG Stadium. The first lady will be in attendance. This event will be livestreamed in this article.
- 6 p.m.: The Bidens depart Houston en route to Joint Base Andrews.
At least 40 people in Texas have died as a result of the storm. Ten days after the blackouts began, more than 1 million people in the state were still under boil-water notices, according to the Associated Press.
Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the Texas council that regulates the state’s electric grid, has claimed that rolling blackouts were necessary to avoid a catastrophic grid failure, which could have left some Texans without power for months.
ERCOT initiated the rolling blackouts early Monday, Feb. 15, when snowfall hit Central and South Texas, and suspended them on Thursday, Feb. 18.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday that Biden is “focused on getting relief to the people in the state, getting updated briefings, tapping into all of the levers of federal government.”
“The president doesn’t view the crisis and the millions of people who’ve been impacted by it as a Democratic or Republican issue,” she said during a press briefing. “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.”
Biden has declared a major disaster in Texas and asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to aid the recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent emergency generators, bottled water, ready-to-eat meals and blankets.
It was unclear whether Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will head to the Lone Star State with Biden, but a spokesperson said Texas Sen. John Cornyn planned to join the president, according to the Associated Press.
In Austin, Texas lawmakers are continuing to probe the blackouts with hearings in the House and Senate. Click here to view livestreams of those hearings, which start at 9 a.m. Friday.