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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman February 19, 2021

No, Joe Biden wasn’t silent or inactive on Texas crisis

If Your Time is short

  • President Joe Biden commented on the situation in Texas and has taken steps to help. 

  • On Feb. 14, Biden issued an emergency declaration for the state, opening up funding for FEMA to provide resources such as generators, water, blankets and meals.

  • The National Guard is predominantly a state agency, and over 400 state service members have been deployed in Texas. FEMA can request additional help from the Guard under the emergency declaration if needed.

After a rare Arctic blast pummeled Texas and forced millions to bear single-digit temperatures without heat or power, many have taken to social media to criticize President Joe Biden. 

Why? Because, they say, he’s done nothing to help. 

One Facebook post says, "4 million without power and not a peep from Joe. Anyone surprised?" 

"Why hasn’t Joe sent the National Guard to Texas with Food and Water and Temporary Shelter?" another questions

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The posts are wrong. 

Biden declared an emergency on Feb. 14, unlocking federal assistance to Texas. He also approved disaster declarations for Oklahoma and Louisiana after speaking with the governors. 

And the Texas National Guard, which is commanded by the governor, has already been mobilized.

Biden’s actions

In the Feb. 14 emergency declaration for Texas, Biden authorized FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts, and to "provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures." It covers all 254 Texas counties. Arrangements for mass care and sheltering will be provided with 75% federal funding, the declaration says. 

Homeland security adviser and Deputy National Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall told reporters in a Feb. 18 White House briefing that FEMA had supplied 60 generators to support critical sites like hospitals and water facilities, and moved in 729,000 liters of water, more than 10,000 wool blankets, 50,000 cotton blankets and 225,000 meals.

Officials are also preparing for additional requests by figuring out how to get more diesel fuel, if necessary, to Texas power facilities.

Biden’s comments

The emergency declaration came early in the week as the brunt of the storm and outages hit Texas. Biden discussed the administration response in tweets and public remarks later in the week.

"Jill and I are keeping Texas, Oklahoma, and other impacted states in our prayers," Biden wrote on Twitter on Feb. 18. "I’ve declared states of emergency, authorized FEMA to provide generators and supplies, and am ready to fulfill additional requests. Please heed the instructions of local officials and stay safe."

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In a later tweet, Biden said that he called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to discuss the situation and identify ways the federal government can support the state’s recovery efforts.

Biden spoke about it again Feb. 19, saying he spoke with Abbott a second time and asked whether he needed more help.

"And we talked — I talked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA — the administrator. This afternoon, I’m going to ask him to accelerate our response and request for — it’s a different declaration — a ‘major disaster declaration’ so that we can get everything done that we need that’s possible to get done with federal government help."

He added: "FEMA is already there and providing support — generators, diesel fuel, water, blankets, and other supplies. But I’ve directed Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense to identify other resources that can provide and address the growing needs of the folks in Texas."

National Guard role

The claims about Biden and the National Guard omit key facts about how the guard is deployed. Governors can activate their state’s forces as they see fit, and Abbott has done that in Texas in response to the freeze.

"We have more than 400 service members now mobilized to support winter response operations," Texas National Guard spokesperson Maj. Martha Nigrelle said in a Feb. 17 statement

"Approximately 100 out on the roads transporting people to safety, assisting stranded motorists, helping clearing roadways and assisting with recoveries where needed," the statement said. "These service members have assisted more than 650 Texans in need, several pets and helped with about a dozen recoveries. The other 300 will be manning warming shelters in our major metropolitan areas."

The president can mobilize National Guard units to help the country’s armed forces, or in other times of emergency, but FEMA is usually the first to be called when it comes to natural disasters.

FEMA has regional offices all over the country, and emergency declarations open up funding so resources can be allocated quickly.

FEMA can also request National Guard help if needed, National Guard spokesperson Maj. Matt Murphy told PolitiFact.

Our ruling

Facebook posts claim that Biden has said nothing about the emergency in Texas and question why he hasn’t sent in the National Guard to help. 

This isn’t accurate. Biden has made multiple comments about the emergency and issued an emergency declaration for the state. This allows FEMA to allocate needed resources quickly and to call on the National Guard for added help.

We rate this False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Feb. 16, 2021 

Facebook post, Feb. 18, 2021

WhiteHouse.gov, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves Texas Emergency Declaration, Feb. 14, 2021

WhiteHouse.gov, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, February 18, 2021 

WhiteHouse.gov, Remarks by President Biden at the 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference, Feb. 19, 2021 

Twitter, Joe Biden tweet, Feb. 18, 2021

Twitter, Joe Biden tweet, Feb. 18, 2021 

Twitter, Joe Biden tweet, Feb. 18, 2021 

Texas Military Department, Texas Military Department Mobilizes for Winter Response Operations, Feb. 17, 2021 

KTSM, President Biden speaks with Gov. Abbott on dire Texas situation, Feb. 18, 2021

Lead Stories, Fact Check: Joe Biden Was NOT Silent On The 4 Million People Without Power Due To The Winter Storm, Feb. 18, 2021

Reuters, Fact check: Biden approved emergency measures in response to Texas freeze, Feb. 18. 2021 

Phone interview, White House spokesperson, Feb. 19, 2021

Email interview, Maj. Matt Murphy spokesperson for the National Guard, Feb. 19, 2021

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More by Samantha Putterman

No, Joe Biden wasn’t silent or inactive on Texas crisis

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