‘We’re Going To Support All Communities’: FEMA Administrator Vows To Help ‘Everybody’ After VP Harris’s ‘Equity’ Comments
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Democratic National Committee Women's Leadership Forum in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. Harris' whirlwind tour of Japan and South Korea this week amounts to a microcosm for the state of her vice presidency: an ambitious, historic and increasingly confident effort still beset by the occasional high-profile gaffe.
Leigh Vogel / Abaca / Bloomberg via Getty Images

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell vowed that Hurricane Ian relief would be provided to “all communities” after Vice President Kamala Harris discussed the Biden administration’s general policy of providing “climate resilience” resources on an equitable basis.

Appearing on “Face the Nation” Sunday, Criswell was asked to respond directly to the comments made by Harris. Criswell claimed that the vice president was speaking in the longer term. Still, she also reassured Americans that the federal government resources would support all people affected by the natural disaster.

“[O]ur programs support everybody,” Criswell told host Margaret Brennan. “I would say I believe some of the things the vice president was talking about are the long-term recovery and rebuilding these communities to be able to withstand disasters, so they can have less impact. We’re going to support all communities. I committed that to (Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis), I commit to you right here that all Floridians are going to be able to get the help that is available to them through our programs.”

Harris raised eyebrows on Friday when she told attendees at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum that officials would favor low-income and minority groups when it came to distributing “climate resilience” resources.

“It is our lowest income communities and our communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions and impacted by issues that are not of their own making,” Harris said. “And so we have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity, understanding not everyone starts out at the same place.”

“And if we want people to be in an equal place, sometimes we have to take into account those disparities and do that work,” she added.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates later said the vice president’s comments related to a general Biden administration policy of distributing “climate resilience” resources around the country.

Many commentators related the general policy Harris was discussing to disaster relief in Florida, which had been battered by Hurricane Ian.

Christina Pushaw, Director of Rapid Response for DeSantis’ re-election campaign, pushed back on Harris’s comments and demanded clarification from the Biden administration.

“This is false. @VP’s rhetoric is causing undue panic and must be clarified,” Pushaw wrote on Twitter. “FEMA Individual Assistance is already available to all Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian, regardless of race or background. If you need assistance visit or call 1-800-621-3362.”

“[T]he areas of SWFL hardest hit by the storm are mostly white but greatly varied in socioeconomic status,” she added in a reply. “None of that matters; rescuers are helping everyone they possibly can and people are getting the assistance they need.”

This article has been updated to clarify the Biden administration policy regarding aid related to natural disasters.

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