President Joe Biden on Wednesday said it would take “years,” and not weeks or months, for Florida to rebuild from Hurricane Ian, as he visited the home state of a potential 2024 rival.
Speaking in Fort Myers, Biden said: “We have one job and only one job … to make sure the people of Florida get everything that they need to fully, thoroughly recover.”
Biden spoke after attending a briefing on Hurricane Ian recovery efforts, where he was greeted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who has been critical of the president’s administration over immigration and other issues.
DeSantis, a possible 2024 Republican presidential contender , praised the White House’s response to the storm ahead of Biden’s arrival in the state, saying at a news conference that “there’s been less bureaucracy holding us back on this one than probably any” other disaster recently.
Speaking to reporters, Biden said DeSantis had done “a good job.”
“We have very different political philosophies, but we’ve worked hand in glove,” Biden said. “In dealing with this crisis, we’ve been in complete lockstep.”
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden’s Florida visit would be “above politics.” The president also visited Puerto Rico on Monday to survey damage from Hurricane Fiona .
Biden did, however, invoke recent natural disasters in the U.S. when speaking, and said: “I think the one thing this has finally ended is the discussion about whether or not there’s climate change and we should do something about it.” Some conservatives reacted with scorn on social media to the comment.
Before the president left for Florida, the White House announced he had extended federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures in the state.
Under Biden’s order, the federal government will cover 100% of those costs for an extra 30 days.
In his remarks, Biden said his administration is working to assist Florida residents with issues including housing and insurance /zigman2/quotes/205505650/composite KIE -0.52% /zigman2/quotes/205476255/composite IAK -0.22% , and pledged long-lasting support from the federal government.
“We have a long road ahead of us,” Biden said. “We’re not going to leave.”