White House press secretary addresses Texas controversy
Burned remains of a cattle ranch in Palo Pinto County, Texas
May 10th, 2011
02:59 PM ET

White House press secretary addresses Texas controversy

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the president made his way to El Paso Tuesday, smoke from the Texas wildfires could be seen outside the windows of Air Force One.

In the back of the plane, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the White House decision not to issue a disaster declaration in the state of Texas, after fires have devastated an estimated 2.2 million acres in the state.

“I would love to answer that,” Carney began, stating that the administration has been “extremely responsive” by giving the state 25 wildfire management assistance grants to the state so far.

“The federal taxpayer is paying 75% of the costs of fighting these fires of Texas - 75%.  So there is plenty, considerable federal assistance flowing to Texas to deal with these serious wildfires.  We take this very seriously,” he added.

But Republican Governor Rick Perry has complained that the administration “has denied Texans the much needed assistance they deserve,” and the state’s Republican U.S. senators have made hay over FEMA’s decision, claiming the Lone Star State is being treated unfairly for political reasons.

Carney insisted the decision was not political, based on the 29 disaster declarations FEMA has issued so far this year.

“I would just point to the disaster declarations that the President has designated from across the country, and I think there was no discrimination here between red and blue states,” he said.

According to Carney, the White House invited Gov. Perry to greet the president on the tarmac in El Paso prior to Obama's immigration event, but Perry declined the offer.

“We invited him to meet with the President and he declined the invitation.  We have also in the past offered him a National Security Council briefing on immigration; he declined that as well,” Carney said.

A spokeswoman in Perry’s office confirmed they could not make the El Paso greeting work, but alternately offered to take the president on a tour of the wildfire damage, or to meet with the president when he visits Austin later in the day.

“We just weren’t able to get anything arranged,” spokeswoman Lucy Nashed  told CNN.

Topics: FEMA • President Obama • The Buzz • The News

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Rick from Canada

    He is the president of the United States. Who do you think has the busier schedule, make time. Honestly the partisanship in your country is disgusting to watch.

    May 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Jay in NC

    Then: Smoke from New Orleans could be seen outside the windows of Air Force One.

    Now: Smoke from the Texas wildfires could be seen outside the windows of Air Force One.

    May 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  3. Liz Carter in Georgia

    That's true Jay. Gov Perry, though is a typical example of an individual who is so biased against the OBAMA administration and the PRESIDENT that he is publicly displaying his hate and disdain towards him by turning down an invitation to greet the president on the tarmac! That kind of disrespect of a PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES is one of the most unwarranted, nasty snubs anyone could even think of displaying, especially while they're 'begging'! Excepting for the safety of the honorable people there! NO!

    May 11, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Jay in NC

      As always there is more to the story. Barry turned down an offer to tour wildfire-ravaged areas. (remember Bush not touring New Orleans.) Barry even turned down a meeting in Austin, the state’s capital, choosing instead to attended two fundraisers. The Gov. did not want to travel 500 miles just to shake Barry's hand, but was willing to talk to the President.

      Barry needs to realize that the world does not revolve around him. That there are other people managing important events. Liberals need to understand that the president is not 'in-charge' of the governors. When Barry visits a sate he should show the proper respect to the Governor. Otherwise he is snubbing the people of that state.

      May 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  4. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Well, this PRESIDENT deserves every lick of respect that every other PRESIDENT has been afforded by mayors, governors, as well has the people of the states. The OFFICE of the PRESIDENT has always been treated with respect by states, cities, and counties local officials. We wouldn't have dared tried to compare his scheduling indifferences or chosen schedules as leverage and excuses as to why he should be dismissed! The 'world' has always revolved around the US President! Why not this one? Oh but, I know why!

    May 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  5. david

    this is obvious people. mainstream media will not report the following so none of you are aware of it. the texas people are demanding to limit what the tsa can do. the texas state government is trying to get it done. however the federal government has threatened to treat texas as a no fly zone if the tsa cant grope everybody and make sure al qaeda didnt make a tiny bomb and put it in somebody's private parts. go to infowars and learn the truth about what is going on.

    May 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm |