President Biden said Tuesday he will use his tour of flood damage in New York and New Jersey to focus on things that could be overhauled by an infrastructure plan that is working its way through Congress.
“I’m hoping to be able to see the things we are going to be able to fix permanently with the bill that we have in for infrastructure,” Mr. Biden told reporters as he left the White House.
The remnants of Hurricane Ida caused historic flooding across several northeastern states, killing more than 50 people.
Mr. Biden will visit Manville, a New Jersey town about an hour southwest of New York City, before touring parts of Queens to see the damage firsthand.
He will be joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and congressional lawmakers at the stops and meet people who were harmed by the storm.
The president on Monday signed disaster declarations that free up federal funding for six New Jersey counties — Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset — and five in New York, namely Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond and Westchester.
“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president is “amenable” to expanding the disaster declaration in New Jersey as Mr. Murphy presses for broader coverage of his state.
Mr. Biden visited Louisiana on Friday to review damage from the hurricane’s initial punch along the Gulf Coast.
The storm put a focus on America’s aging infrastructure in the face of severe weather.
Ms. Psaki said 1 in 3 Americans lives in a county that’s been impacted by extreme weather in recent months, including wildfires out West.
“The average costs of extreme weather are getting bigger, and no one is immune from climate change,” she said.
Ms. Psaki said the changing climate also doesn’t care what party lawmakers are from so those who remain skeptical of the phenomenon should look out the window and see the economic damage that Mother Nature is wreaking on their communities.
Congress is working on a major infrastructure package that made it through the evenly divided Senate, but it faces hiccups from members of Mr. Biden‘s own party in the House.
Liberals want to see a parallel bill for families gain traction before they’ll approve the package for roads, bridges and other construction.
Asked if he could get Democrats on the same page, Mr. Biden sounded confident, if a bit cryptic: “Is the sun going to come out tomorrow?”