President Biden is receiving updates on the building collapse in Surfside, Florida, an administration official says, and is expected to address the tragedy again later today at the White House.
Overnight, the President’s decision to declare a state of emergency in Florida — which immediately authorizes federal assistance for the Surfside building collapse — came after a day of discussions between the White House and the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
More on this: An official request for assistance must come from the governor’s office. Throughout the day on Thursday, that did not occur, which struck officials in the White House as unusual. When CNN asked Biden around 5 p.m. on Thursday whether he had spoken to DeSantis, he said: “No, I haven’t yet. I’m waiting on a call from him if he needs the help. We told him it’s available. My team has gotten in touch. I have not yet personally spoken to him.
That changed late Thursday evening when the governor’s office made the official request, a senior administration official said, and the declaration was announced by the White House at 12:43 am on Friday.
As of this morning, the President and the governor have still not spoken, an official says, but he has been in contact with top White House officials, including chief of staff Ron Klain.
DeSantis, a Republican, has been one of Biden’s biggest critics – and he is widely seen inside the GOP as a top contender for the 2024 presidential race.
A Florida official familiar with the matter tells CNN that DeSantis finally agreed to ask the White House for assistance at the urging of local officials in Miami-Dade County.
The emergency declaration opens the door for federal assistance from FEMA and other agencies.