President Joe Biden said Tuesday he will travel to Hawaii "as soon as I can" to review recovery efforts from wildfires that swept across Maui and killed dozens of people.
Biden, at an economic event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, did not specifically say he would visit Maui itself, a nod to White House concerns he not interfere with the ongoing effort to retrieve more bodies from destroyed buildings.
White House officials were discussing what a presidential visit would entail. Biden said he discussed a visit with Hawaii's governor, Josh Green.
"My wife Jill and I are going to travel to Hawaii as soon as we can," Biden said, but added, "I don't want to get in the way."
"I want to go and make sure we've got everything we need. I want to be sure we don't disrupt the recovery efforts," he said.
Over the weekend, Biden had come under fire for a "no comment" as the death total in Lahaina wild fires were approaching 100 dead.
"We're currently having active conversations about when a visit to Hawaii might be possible," White House deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters accompanying Biden to Milwaukee.
Biden has surveyed the ruins of numerous natural disasters, including hurricanes and tornadoes. One place he has yet to visit, despite saying months ago that he intended to go, is East Palestine, Ohio, where toxic chemicals were released after a train derailment in February. A visit soon is unlikely, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell suggested Monday.
Criswell said the focus right now is on helping the devastated city of Lahaina, finding missing people and identifying the nearly 100 people who lost their lives.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday he wants Congress to help Hawaii by approving a supplemental spending package that includes $13 billion to replenish federal disaster funds "as quickly as possible" once lawmakers return after Labor Day.
Schumer, D-N.Y., said his heart goes out to all those impacted by the devastating fires in Maui, adding that the Senate would "do everything we could to help Hawaii."
Last week the Biden administration requested $13 billion in overall disaster funds as part of a $40 billion package that includes money for the war effort in Ukraine, which is running into opposition from Republicans in Congress.
Most likely, the request will be considered alongside broader legislation needed by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government funded and avoid a shutdown in routine services.
"We want to get a supplemental done as quickly as possible," Schumer said on a conference call.
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