Dewhurst Urges Feds To Grant Disaster Declaration Quickly
Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst struck a confrontational tone with Washington this morning at an appearance in Bastrop. Dewhurst is running for a United States Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
“Last night in his speech, the president was using the words ‘right away,’” Dewhurst said from the podium during a press conference at the Bastrop Convention Center. “Mr. President, we need a statewide disaster declaration right away.”
President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress last night in which he repeatedly urged lawmakers to pass his jobs bill “right away.”
Some Bastrop evacuees applauded Dewhurst’s line, while at least one person challenged him on the state's response.
“Where’s the Governor?” asked one man.
“The Governor, I’m in contact with the Governor,” Dewhurst replied.
“Where is he?”
“I’m not sure exactly where he is at this moment. The state of Texas is on top of this. We’re being responsive to and providing the support that we can, alright?” Dewhurst said before turning the podium back over to Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald.
Over the past few days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized eight grants to be used in the battle against Texas wildfires. The authorization makes federal funding available for 75 percent of “eligible” state and local firefighting costs.
FEMA teams were in Bastrop County this week conducting assessments on the ground of the damage.
In a phone conversation this week, President Obama told Gov. Perry that additional requests for federal aid would be “quickly assessed.” Governor Perry sent a letter to the president yesterday, asking that request be expedited.
Texas requested a major disaster declaration from President Obama earlier this year because of the wildfires. A statement from Perry's office notes how that was denied in May. Governor Perry appealed and received a partial declaration on July 1. This pending request would expand the scope of that declaration.