Biden Admin Repeats Hurricane Ian ‘Not Political’ As Harris Pitches Race-Based Hurricane Relief

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
Font Size:

The Biden administration has repeatedly claimed responding to the destruction of Hurricane Ian is not about “politics,” while Vice President Kamala Harris called for a response based on race “equity.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has claimed at least five times that responding to the deadly Category Four hurricane is above “politics,” while discussing the Biden administration’s response and President Joe Biden’s relationship with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“We don’t want to make this about politics. We don’t want to make this about, you know, red states versus, you know, blue states.  This is — this is about the American people that are, you know, families and everyday people who are on the ground who need the assistance,” Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing Sept. 30.

While DeSantis has agreed he and Biden “need to work together,” he has claimed Harris’ remarks about “giving resources based on equity” to victims of the hurricane were an attempt at playing “identity politics.”

“It is our lowest-income communities and communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions and impacted by issues not of their own making,” Harris said Friday. “And so we have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity.” (RELATED: Kamala Harris Says Disaster Relief Should Be ‘Based On Equity’)

DeSantis responded to Harris’ comments Monday, calling them “ridiculous” and an attempt at pushing “identity politics.”

“I think she’s trying to play identity politics with a storm and a natural disaster, and I think it’s ridiculous,” DeSantis said Monday. “That is not going to happen, it’s totally not appropriate. You don’t have to politicize every single tragedy in this country.”

“The impacts spanned all demographics, all income levels,” he added. “We just want to make sure people have a chance to get back on their feet and get moving forward again.”

MATLACHA, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 04: A member of the Miami-Dade Florida Task Force 1 Search and Rescue team looks through a pile of debris for victims after Hurricane Ian passed through the area on October 4, 2022 in Matlacha, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Jean-Pierre walked back Harris’ comments during a press briefing Monday.

“That is not what the vice president said,” she 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,” Jean-Pierre added. “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.”

Biden and DeSantis will meet in-person in Florida on Wednesday after having several phone conversations, Jean-Pierre confirmed Tuesday.

Both DeSantis and Biden have stressed the importance of cooperating while dealing with the effects of Hurricane Ian, with the Florida governor saying, “It’s my sense that the administration wants to help.”