President Joe Biden travels to Texas today, along with the first lady, the first disaster-related trip of his presidency. Biden will survey storm damage with Governor Abbott, meet with the governor and local leaders, and visit an emergency management center in Houston. Jill Biden will visit the Houston Food Bank. The First Couple will also visit a federal mass vaccination site. Both Bidens will end up at NRG Park where the president will deliver remarks.
It will be a full day for a president known for his low energy schedule.
So they just released the Biden Houston schedule. @FLOTUS visits @HoustonFoodBank, @POTUS goes to Transtar. They both end up at @NRGpark where Biden will give remarks. On the ground for about 6 hours.
— Miya Shay (@miyashay) February 26, 2021
Transtar is a hub for transportation management and emergency management services to the Greater Houston Region, heavily utilized during any kind of disruptions, like hurricanes and other storms, including the recent winter storm. NRG Park is a complex that houses a stadium, convention center, and sports arena. It is the site of the mass vaccination location. It is a FEMA supersite.
Biden will get to do what he gets favorable marks for in the press – he’ll be the comforter-in-chief for Texans in the winter storm’s aftermath. He based his whole presidential campaign on how much he cares about Americans and promised to bring normalcy back. Since taking office, though, he has been shown to be a hypocrite. It happened again as Team Biden prepared for this trip. Traditionally, the senators from the state a president visits are offered a ride on Air Force One to travel with the presidential entourage. Presidential tradition is to extend an invitation, even to those of the opposite party. Biden snubbed both Texas senators, though, and his press secretary uses the excuse of the coronavirus. There just isn’t room for Senators Cornyn and Cruz on the flight to Texas, what with social distancing and all. What a load of malarkey. Every time Biden has an opportunity to show he’s sincere in a desire to usher some civility back into politics, to return to some level of normalcy, he whiffs. This would have been an opportunity to reach out for some unity as both Democrats and Republicans deal with the devastation brought about by the freak winter storm. Instead, Biden looks petty.
Asked Thursday if Biden has invited Sens. Ted Cruz or John Cornyn, Psaki said that in part due to COVID-19 restrictions, no lawmakers from either party will be traveling to Texas with the president and first lady Jill Biden.
Houston is Cruz’s hometown, but Psaki said that had nothing to do with the decision to go there. He’s scheduled to speak Friday morning in Orlando to a major conservative gathering.
Cornyn told Texas reporters that he would like to join Biden in Houston but since he won’t get a seat aboard Air Force One, “We’re working on the logistics…. I’ll try to get his ear.”
Thursday evening, an aide said that he will, in fact, be in Houston to meet with the president.
Senator Cornyn has a bill he will file that would provide federal grants to help Texas weatherize its power grid. No doubt that is something he would like to speak with Biden about. It is being reported, and the press secretary said the same yesterday, that Biden will not lecture Texans about their separate power grid. Governor Abbott is likely to speak with Biden about including all 254 counties in the state in a major disaster declaration. So far, only 108 counties have been included. Perhaps Biden will take the opportunity during this trip to announce coverage of all Texas counties in the declaration.
Biden will spend the day in Houston. He is scheduled to spend about six hours on the ground. He is expected to meet with Mayor Sylvester Turner. Last week we learned that Turner had spoken to Biden several times, yet not to Governor Abbott. Turner is a partisan Democrat who made a big deal out of first supporting Michael Bloomberg for president, then Joe Biden when Bloomberg dropped out.
The president will tout mass vaccination sites as he visits NRG Park.
Biden and the first lady are also scheduled to tour a facility in Texas distributing coronavirus vaccines, as part of an effort to highlight his administration’s partnership with states to boost availability of vaccines across the country.
“Jill and I will travel to Houston, Texas, to tour one of the first federal mass vaccination centers and to thank everyone involved.” Biden said in remarks Thursday commemorating 50 million coronavirus vaccine shots. “This is an example of the kind of partnerships between federal, state, and local governments and public and private partners that is going to get this job done.”
Biden has only spoken to Governor Abbott twice since the storm. On Thursday, Biden declared a major disaster in Oklahoma due to the winter storm. He only included 16 counties, though, in the disaster declaration. The state, like Texas, requested all its counties to be included in the declaration. Biden declared a state of emergency in Louisiana.