President Trump is due to make a second visit to Texas as well as a visit to Lousiana in order to provide comfort and hope to those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the first major domestic test of his beleaguered administration.
Donald Trump hopes to provide a more somber tone after a series of controversial tweets reacting to the strength of the storm and his first visit where his campaign-style rhetoric about the size of the crowd went down poorly with many commentators. His pardoning of former sheriff Joe Apario was also regarded as unhelpful and drawing attention away from the then-approaching hurricane.
Donald Trump’s visit to Houston, accompanied by his wife Melania, is likely an attempt to avoid the mistake of George Bush whose slow response to Katrina over ten years ago hurt the latter’ popularity and dogged his presidency. Trump has already remained in close contact with state officials such as Greg Abbot, the governor of Texas while analysts have complimented the efforts of Trump’s pick for FEMA, Brock Long.
President Trump has already made a request to Congress for a $14.5bn down payment for storm victims along with a declaration making Sunday a national day of prayer. In his speech on Friday, he invited all Americans to “join us as we continue to pray for those who have lost family members or friends, and for those who are suffering in this time of crisis”.
In his trip, President Trump will be meeting with survivors from Houston and seeing the destruction first-hand. He is also expected to meet with Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston along with many of the volunteers who stayed to help during the storm.
However, Trump will not only be navigating both the receding flood waters, but also the political currents in Washington. Recent insights into the Russian investigation, as well as the approaching debate over federal funds and the debt ceiling, have left a great deal of uncertainty over the future. With Trump’s threat to let the government shut down over funding for his border wall, there is a worry that federal funds to assist with rebuilding efforts from Harvey may complicate efforts to bring down the deficit.
Donald Trump is also facing criticism for removing many environmental regulations from the Obama presidency including an executive order to scrap flood protection laws, just days before Harvey made landfall, presumably to get his infrastructure legislation done quickly. His denial of climate change has also come under scrutiny as experts predict that, due to warmer temperatures, future storms might be even more powerful and devastating.
Aides are hoping for a gaffe-free trip as President Trump has promised to offer hope to those affected by one of the biggest storms in American history as the massive clean-up operation gets underway.