The outspoken Republican stayed away from Obama’s welcoming ceremony amidst some intimations that the Democratic president was bringing politics into the way his administration authorizes aid to states facing natural disasters.
Texas has been suffering from severe drought and has been fighting wildfires that have consumed more than two million acres. While Obama has issued federal disaster declarations for many states hit by severe weather in recent weeks – tornadoes and floods have besieged much of the U.S. south – he has not done so for Texas, which has inspired some critics to question whether Obama has shunned the state because it is very strongly Republican.
Administration officials note that Washington is already providing millions of dollars in assistance to help with the Texas wildfires, by picking up 75 percent of the cost of fighting the blazes.
“The federal government is picking up a substantial part of that cost,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling to El Paso with Obama. “There is no discrimination between red and blue states.”