Texas faced a week of blackouts after climate-linked extreme winter weather hit the state, leading to major outages in gas plants due to deregulation, especially regarding failures to winterize equipment. After spending days lying about renewable energy’s role in the ongoing Texas blackouts, Fox pundits and hosts have now decided to attack President Joe Biden for not “throwing out paper towels or whatever presidents do” and for taking “a day off in the middle of this natural disaster.” In reality, he Biden administration has been involved in the disaster response since February 14, and is following a similar pattern to other natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.
Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz: “As Texas continued to suffer under a massive and deadly winter storm, the commander in chief, Joe Biden, took a snow day.” [Fox News, Hannity, 2/19/21]
Fox host Jesse Watters: Unlike Donald Trump, Biden isn’t “throwing out paper towels or whatever presidents do to make it look like, for the cameras, that they care.” [Fox News, The Five, 2/19/21]
Fox contributor Karl Rove: Biden should “pick up the phone and do what they finally did yesterday, which is the president of the United States talked to the governor of Texas last night.” [Fox News, America Reports with John Roberts and Sandra Smith, 2/19/21]
Fox contributor Guy Benson: “It does feel like a little bit of a slow federal response. A hands-off situation for days on end.” [Fox News, America Reports with John Roberts and Sandra Smith, 2/19/21]
Fox host Harris Faulkner: Biden “says he wants to accelerate a major disaster declaration for Texas, but critics say that he waited too long to act.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 2/19/21]
Fox host Sean Hannity: Biden “took a day off in the middle of this natural disaster.” [Fox News, Hannity, 2/18/21]
Fact check: The Biden administration has been involved in disaster response for over a week
Biden approved an emergency declaration for the entire state of Texas on February 14, allowing federal resources to supplement the state government’s response to the winter storms -- aid that included 60 generators, 729,000 liters of water, over 60,000 blankets, and 225,000 meals, according to PolitiFact, which also reported that Biden released several statements and asked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) if he needed more federal assistance.
After the call with Abbott, Biden authorized a major disaster declaration for 77 of Texas’ 254 counties on February 19, meaning that the storms caused “damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website.
According to The Dallas Morning News, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the partial declaration was intended to focus on “the counties that are hardest hit, so that [FEMA] can make sure they get the people in most need.” Texas is currently collecting information to try to add the rest of its counties to the disaster declaration, in a similar pattern to the federal response to Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
In New York, one of the states hardest hit by Sandy, on October 30, 2012, then-President Barack Obama initially issued a major disaster declaration for the seven counties which comprise New York City and Long Island. However, in the ensuing weeks, Obama added seven more New York counties to the original declaration. In New Jersey, the disaster declaration (also made on October 30) initially focused on eight counties directly on the Atlantic coast, but by November 5 it included the entire state.