White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre walked back Vice President Kamala Harris’ remark that President Joe Biden’s administration would account for “equity” when distributing hurricane relief.
Harris said told the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday that the administration intends to “fight for equity” since Hurricane Ian has impacted lower-income and communities of color the most. Jean-Pierre walked back Harris’ remark after a reporter questioned her on the Republican backlash.
“That is not what the vice president said,” Jean-Pierre said. “The vice president was clearly talking about long-term investment, not FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Aid] for hurricane response efforts. The vice president and the president have been clear that the federal government has been and will continue to be there for all Americans recovering from these devastating storms as we’re seeing the president and first lady do today and will see them do clearly in Florida on Wednesday.”
“We are committed to quickly getting resources to all communities impacted, period,” she continued. “Full stop. But we also note that some people, particularly of lower income, have a hard time accessing that help. That’s why this administration has also made it a priority to remove barriers and ensure that everyone, regardless of their zip code, and that’s what she was talking about.”
Footage released Sunday showed Harris remained silent when asked for a clarification, Fox News reported. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rapid response director, Christina Pushaw, said Harris’ remarks were incorrect given that “all Floridians,” regardless of race or background, have access to FEMA Individual Assistance. (RELATED: ‘Why Not The Governor?’: Reporters Repeatedly Press FEMA Administrator On Contacting DeSantis About Hurricane)
“This is false. @VP‘s rhetoric is causing undue panic and must be clarified,” Pushaw said on Twitter Sunday. “FEMA Individual Assistance is already available to all Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian, regardless of race or background. If you need assistance visit disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.”
This is false. @VP‘s rhetoric is causing undue panic and must be clarified. FEMA Individual Assistance is already available to all Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian, regardless of race or background. If you need assistance visit https://t.co/x9X8AstnzL or call 1-800-621-3362. https://t.co/idsw1PX86x
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) September 30, 2022
Prior to landfall, the Biden administration approved DeSantis’ emergency declaration authorizing FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to provide assistance to Florida. Hurricane Ian has killed at least 47 people in Florida after the Category 4 storm made landfall, according to Fox News.