WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is visiting New York and New Jersey on Tuesday to tour neighborhoods hit hard last week by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Biden first received a briefing from local officials in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey, and then he’s set to tour a neighborhood in Manville, another area in the state that was hit hard.
During the initial briefing, Biden discussed his administration's efforts to respond to the flooding and emphasized that climate change is having a detrimental effect on people and the environment across the country.
Scientists have warned about extreme weather "for decades" and the U.S. doesn't have "any more time" to confront it, he said.
"Every part of the country is getting hit by extreme weather, and we're now living in real time what the country's going to look like," Biden told reporters. "And if we don't do something — we can't turn it back very much, but we can prevent it from getting worse."
Later Tuesday, the president is heading to the Queens borough of New York City to tour one of its neighborhoods, and he’ll deliver remarks about his administration’s response to the hurricane.
Asked what he’s hoping to see as he left the White House, Biden told reporters, “I’m hoping to see the things that we can fix permanently with the bill on infrastructure,” one of the measures Congress is expected to act on this month. Pressed on the legislation’s chances, he joked, “The sun will come out tomorrow!”
Biden signed disaster declarations for both states over the weekend, which will provide them with access to federal assistance through the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The White House is also asking Congress to provide at least $10 billion for recovery from the hurricane and $14 billion for other natural disasters, an administration official said Tuesday on a call with reporters.
Ahead of Biden’s visit, the White House has been criticized by New Jersey officials, including Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, for leaving several counties that saw severe damage out of the disaster declaration, including Union and Essex counties.
A White House official said in response that the “damage assessments are continuing to capture the full extent of the storm’s impacts, and additional counties may be designated for assistance after damage assessments are fully completed.”
As of Saturday, at least 67 hurricane-related deaths had been reported across eight states, a week after Ida made landfall in Louisiana. Most of those deaths occurred in New York and New Jersey.
Tornadoes touched down in New Jersey, and record flash flooding led to illegally converted basement apartments filling up with water in Queens. A number of people who were driving on highways wound up getting stuck in their cars as they filled with water.
Biden toured damage in Louisiana on Friday and also pledged the federal government’s help in recovering from the damage.
The catastrophic flooding and destruction comes as the president pushes Congress to pass a massive infrastructure plan that would allow the nation to rebuild its roads, bridges and public transportation systems.