Posted by on October 3, 2022 2:34 pm
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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the DNC Women’s Leadership Forum, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at The Mayflower Hotel, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin/AP

White House clarifies Harris comments about ‘equity’ and hurricane relief

Haisten Willis October 03, 01:57 PMOctober 03, 01:57 PM Video Embed

The White House on Monday clarified comments made by Vice President Kamala Harris about Hurricane Ian, saying her remarks about “equity” do not mean resources won’t be equally distributed to all people.

En route to Puerto Rico, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about Harris’s comments and the blowback they generated. She thanked the reporter for asking the question and giving her a chance to respond.

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“That is not what the vice president said,” stated Jean-Pierre. “She was clearly talking about long-term investment, not FEMA aid for hurricane response efforts. The vice president and the president have been clear that the federal government has been and will continue to be there for all Americans.”

During the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday afternoon, Harris told actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas that when it comes to climate change, it is people in lower-income communities and people of color who are “most impacted by these extreme conditions.”

“I know we are all thinking about the families in Florida and Puerto Rico with [Hurricane] Fiona and what we need to do to help them in terms of an immediate response and aid,” Harris said.

“We have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity. Understanding not everyone starts out at the same place, and if we want people to be in an equal place, sometimes we have to take into account those disparities,” she added.

Harris’s comments were quickly rejected by Christina Pushaw, a representative for Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) reelection campaign.

“This is false. @VP‘s rhetoric is causing undue panic and must be clarified. FEMA Individual Assistance is already available to all Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian, regardless of race or background. If you need assistance visit disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362,” Pushaw tweeted.

But Jean-Pierre said on Monday that Pushaw’s interpretation was inaccurate.

“We are committed to quickly getting resources to all communities impacted, period, full stop,” she said.

Equity is a concern, Jean-Pierre added, but the goal is to get resources distributed to everyone who needs them.

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“We also know that some people, particularly in lower-income communities, have a hard time accessing that help,” she said. “That’s why this administration has also made it a priority to remove barriers and ensure that everyone, regardless of their zip code, can access federal resources. That’s what [Harris] was talking about.”

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