President Biden receives updates on the building collapse in Surfside, Florida, an administrative officer says, and is expected to speak of the tragedy again later today at the White House.
Overnight, the president’s decision to declare a state of emergency in Florida – which immediately approves federal aid for the collapse of the Surfside building – came after a day of discussions between the White House and the office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
More on this: An official request for assistance must be made by the governor’s office. Throughout the day, Thursday did not happen, which White House officials found unusual. When CNN asked Biden at around 5 p.m. Thursday if he’d spoken to DeSantis, he said, “No, I haven’t. I am waiting for a call from him if he needs help. We told him it was available. My team got in touch. I haven’t spoken to him personally yet.
That all changed late Thursday night when the governor’s office made the official request, a senior administration official said, and the statement was made public by the White House at 12:43 p.m. on Friday.
As of this morning, the president and governor still haven’t spoken, an official says, but he’s in contact with senior White House officials, including Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
DeSantis, a Republican, was one of Biden’s biggest critics – and he’s widely considered a top contender for the 2024 presidential race within the GOP.
A Florida official familiar with the matter told CNN that DeSantis finally agreed to seek help from the White House at the urging of local officials in Miami-Dade County.
The declaration of emergency opens the door to federal support from FEMA and other agencies.