Update 3 p.m.: Vice President Mike Pence, in Austin to receive a briefing from Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on Hurricane Harvey response, praised state and federal leaders for the way they have handled the disaster recovery.
“President Trump asked me to be here today not only for an update but also as continuing our commitment to Texas and the dedication of our administration and the American people of bringing Texas all the way back,” Pence said.
At a brief press conference at a regional FEMA office in North Austin, Pence was flanked by Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, all three of whom exchanged words of praise and gratitude for each other’s leadership. Pence also commended FEMA for doing “yeoman’s work.”
There are still 3,600 federal officials on the ground in Texas, Pence said. More than 888,000 people have applied for assistance under the individuals and household program, and the agency has approved $1.39 billion in assistance for housing, he said. (According to FEMA’s website, that amount covered about 351,000 approved applications.)
The Small Business Administration has received more than 94,000 applications for assistance, and that agency has approved $2.26 billion in funds to Texas businesses, Pence said.
More than $490 million has been given to Texans through FEMA’s public assistance program, and the National Flood Insurance Program has paid out $4.4 billion.
“We’ve made progress together … but we understand we have a long way to go, and I hope my presence here today gives that message of the determination of President Trump to keep our word. We know Texas will come all the way back and then some.”
Earlier: Vice President Mike Pence, accompanied by Second Lady Karen Pence, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and FEMA Administrator Brock Long, will be in Austin Wednesday for a briefing with Gov. Greg Abbott on Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts and to address the 2017 Republican Governors Association Annual Conference.
The Pences are due to arrive on Air Force Two at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport just before noon.
From there, they head to the FEMA Joint Field Office in North Austin, where they will be joined by Gov. Abbott, former Gov. Perry, and Long, the FEMA administrator, for the Harvey briefing.
At 3:15, Pence delivers remarks at the RGA meeting at the JW Marriott Austin downtown.
The Pences will fly back to D.C. from Austin at 6:40 p.m.
Last Wednesday, the Pences were in Texas for a prayer vigil for the victims of the Sutherland Springs church shooting.