White House Touts ‘Whole-Of-Government’ Response To Maui Fires When Pressed On Biden’s Beach Vacation
US President Joe Biden waves as he returns to a car after visiting the beach near his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on August 13, 2023.
(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House sought to deflect backlash on Monday over President Joe Biden spending a weekend at the beach in the aftermath of a fire that devastated part of the Hawaiian island of Maui.

A reporter asked Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre how the White House would “respond to critics who have suggested that the president should not have been vacationing at the beach” in Delaware as the death toll approaches the 100 mark as searches continue and efforts are underway to assist survivors.

“The president is certainly deeply concerned about the people in Maui to the point where he has mobilized a whole-of-government approach here,” Jean-Pierre said.

After reciting how federal agencies are working to provide aid to survivors, including food and cots, Jean-Pierre insisted that Biden has “also committed to being there for the government of Hawaii — the people of Maui for as long as it takes.”

However that commitment, at least for now, does not include a visit to Hawaii as Biden has other plans on his official schedule, including spending several days in Lake Tahoe starting at the end of the week.

Jean-Pierre said she had nothing to announce when it came to the question of Biden traveling to Hawaii and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who participated in Monday’s White House briefing remotely, explained that federal officials have other priorities when asked about it.

“We just want to make sure that we are working to help this community identify everybody that’s missing and we need to stay focused on that right now,” Criswell said.

Jean-Pierre similarly touted a large federal response to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, as Biden got flak for not visiting the site of the crash that took place in February. Last month, the White House claimed the president still planned to visit the area as Biden himself said he had planned to do at some point. To this day, he has yet to make the trip.

The cause of a fire that decimated the historic town of Lahaina in Maui on Tuesday is now under investigation while Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez is leading a review into the emergency response. Meanwhile officials are still searching for remains in the hard-hit area.

Biden approved a disaster declaration last week to unlock federal resources to assist with the recovery efforts in Maui, but some residents have criticized the government for not doing more to help.

“The response from our well-funded, tax-paid government is incredibly pathetic,” local gym owner Paul Romero told The New York Times over the weekend. “We can’t even understand what they did, what they didn’t do, what they’re still not doing.”

The president garnered negative press over the weekend when he told reporters “no comment” when asked about the rising death toll in Maui while was at the beach in Delaware. On Monday, he posted to X a breakdown of the U.S. government’s response to the disaster.

“As residents of Hawai’i mourn the loss of life and devastation taking place across their beautiful home, we mourn with them. Like I’ve said, not only our prayers are with those impacted — but every asset we have will be available to them,” Biden said.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  White House Touts ‘Whole-Of-Government’ Response To Maui Fires When Pressed On Biden’s Beach Vacation