Biden to declare major disaster for Texas amid crippling freeze

The president also said he would sign a major disaster declaration for Texas as early as Friday afternoon and that he spoke to Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday night about the situation in the state. Abbott had previously said he requested the declaration during his conversation with the president.

Biden signed a separate emergency declaration earlier this week as the crisis was unfolding, though that one had a monetary cap on the amount of assistance the federal government can provide. Declaring a major disaster frees up the government to provide additional aid.

Much of Texas has been gripped by rolling blackouts and water outages as the state’s utilities were unable to accommodate the surge in demand that resulted from a devastating winter storm that brought snow and sub-freezing temperatures to a state unaccustomed to such weather.

A number of people have died due to hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning and other causes related to the extreme weather.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has faced a firestorm of criticism for jetting off to Mexico with his family this week while millions of Texas are in crisis, a decision which he apologized for upon cutting short his trip once it publicly surfaced.