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After a “friendly” phone call with the president, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick accused Joe Biden of abusing Hurricane Beryl to score partisan political points. Greg Abbot is overseas, leaving Patrick as acting governor.


Just hours after announcing in a press release that President Joe Biden had approved his request to accelerate the disbursement of federal hurricane relief funds for Texas, Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick late Tuesday accused the Democratic president of turning the storm into “a political issue.”

Patrick described his brief early morning phone call with Biden as “cordial,” as the two discussed the damage Hurricane Beryl caused along the Gulf Coast and some inland communities. Later in the day, Biden told the Houston Chronicle that his decision to officially declare the storm, which made landfall Monday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, a disaster was delayed because he had difficulty reaching Gov. Greg Abbott or Patrick.

This was the catalyst for Patrick, who is serving as acting governor while Abbott is on an extended trade mission in Asia.

“He falsely accuses me of being unavailable,” Patrick said of Biden in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “He obviously didn’t know that his own FEMA staff were side by side with me for three days! All he had to do was call them and ask them to give me their phone.”

More: 5 record-breaking facts about Hurricane Beryl on its way to Texas

On Wednesday morning, Patrick expanded his criticism with a second post titled “Biden’s Hurricane Hoax,” saying the president had both his and Abbott’s cellphone numbers but instead called the head of the Texas Department of Emergency Management, who then passed the phone on to the lieutenant governor.

“To say the President couldn’t find me or the Governor is ridiculous,” Patrick said in his post Wednesday morning. “The bottom line is this: I asked for a federal disaster declaration at the right time and without delay, and the President agreed. Unfortunately, President Biden is attacking Governor Abbott and me and trying to score political points for reasons that make no sense.”

Abbott faced some criticism for continuing his overseas trip just as Beryl was taking aim at Texas. In a social media post a day before the storm hit the Texas coast, Abbott assured his state that he would work closely with local authorities to prepare for and repair any damage the wind and rain might bring.

“While I work on billions of dollars worth of business deals in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, I am in daily contact with the Texas Division of Emergency Management and local authorities to ensure preparations for Hurricane Beryl. Your safety is our top concern,” Abbott said on X at 9:39 a.m. Sunday, about 19 hours before the storm made landfall near Matagorda.

Several critics of the governor compared his Asia trip, also on social media, to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s decision to travel to Cancun while Texas was hit by a deadly winter storm in February 2021 that knocked out power across the state.

“There’s a hurricane heading to Texas and you get out,” read one reply to Abbott on X. “Just like Teddy Boy during the freeze. You both need to get out.”

Another said: “If Texans are Abbott’s top priority, then he should return to Texas NOW.”

More: Why Texas Governor Greg Abbott is opening a state office in Taiwan

Abbott’s state-funded trip to Asia, which he attended with an entourage that included several lawmakers and Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson, was planned weeks in advance and was not a vacation. And as the Texas Constitution requires, Patrick moved quickly to fill any gap in leadership.

On Friday, Patrick called a press conference at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Operations Center in Austin – as Abbott has done during past emergencies – to warn Gulf Coast residents to prepare for Beryl’s arrival and make evacuation plans if necessary.

Number of beryl fatalities: At least 7 dead in the greater Houston area, 1 in Louisiana

And on Sunday, just hours after Abbott’s tweet from Taiwan, Patrick and Nim Kidd, the head of the Texas Emergency Management Agency, called reporters back to the emergency operations center — commonly called the “bunker” — to deliver the same warnings with heightened urgency as the storm approached. As the storm’s march through the state from the Houston area through East Texas neared its end late Monday, Patrick called a third meeting to remind residents in its path to stay vigilant and help neighbors in need.

On Tuesday, Patrick traveled to the hardest-hit areas, taking center stage at local press conferences alongside several politicians, including Cruz. Along the way, he issued a press release saying he had spoken with Biden, a frequent target of Texas Republicans’ scorn, and had been assured that his request for federal aid would be expedited.

Abbott, meanwhile, issued several statements from Asia, talking about business deals, including plans by a South Korean steel company to build a $110 million manufacturing plant in Temple and plans by a Texas state office in Taiwan to improve trade and cultural ties. He provided several updates on the impact of Beryl and the state’s cleanup efforts.

“I continue to be in regular contact with @TDEM and state officials,” the governor said Tuesday on X.

According to a White House press release, Biden’s disaster declaration for Texas makes federal funds available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in Anderson, Angelina, Aransas, Austin, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Calhoun, Cameron, Camp, Cass, Chambers, Cherokee, Colorado, Dewitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Freestone, Galveston, Goliad, Gregg, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Hidalgo, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Marion, Matagorda, Milam, Montgomery, Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Panola, Polk, Refugio, Robertson, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Victoria, Walker, Waller. Washington, Webb, Wharton and Willacy counties. Funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for statewide hazard mitigation efforts, the release said.