tv President Biden Delivers Remarks in Florida on Condo Collapse CSPAN July 1, 2021 8:14pm-8:33pm EDT
say thank you. we appreciate what you do. i promise you we know what you're doing here is incredible. having to deal with the uncertainty. worrying about, you know, families. anyway, thank you. i'm happy to answer any questions. be careful, careful. [indiscernible] >> at the meeting with families of the victims of the surfside florida condo collapse, president biden spoke to the media about emergency cooperation efforts and announced that the federal government will cover search-and-rescue cost for the
first 30 days. he also talked about the supreme court ruling on arizona voting rights. this is 15 minutes. pres. biden: let me begin by saying that the creative cooperation between local, state, and federal officials down here has been remarkable. i want to thank our fema director for their effort. governor desantis, senator marco rubio and scott, congressman schulz, mayor, they have all cooperated in ways i have not seen in a long time.
it is really a testament to how difficult things are down here. it is what, quite frankly, we miss a lot. we have all been working in tandem from the moment we got the news of the collapse of the building. i think my colleagues will tell you, we cut through the bureaucracy, the one order i gave, the federal folks, was no bureaucracy, just cut through and get to what they need. that is why we decided to cover 100% of the search-and-rescue costs for the first 30 days. that is necessary here, in my view. and fema is going to provide temporary housing and other urgent needs for the device -- survivors. state department are expediting visas for family members from other countries. latin america, south america,
europe, israel. want to give a special shout out to first responders, the international association of firefighters, one of the best organizations in the country. i particularly want to thank the president that came down from boston, he is here with the entire crew. these folks are always showing up no matter what. they are risking their lives. there is that old expression, the press who travels with me is tired of hearing, but i'm not tired of saying it, it is -- firefighters are remarkable people. there risking lives to save lives, as well as the police and other first responders. i got to meet with a whole bunch of them and we were able to employ -- deploy nearly 500
personnel, including five other search and rescue teams on the ground today here because of our fema director ordered it. i want to compliment fema and might add all those folks risking their lives to save lives. but also holding out hope that those will be found. hope springs eternal. when i talk to those first responders, i pointed out that they're under a great deal of stress and we should take advantage -- they should take advantage of the mental health facilities that are going to be available. because, you know, we talk about our military suffering from posttraumatic stress. seeing what they're seeing, doing what they're doing, understanding how much trauma is involved, i just don't want them thinking that they should walk away from help if it's needed. you know, they stand together and it's really impressive. and there's also the need, in addition to state and local assistance, to determine the cause of this collapse. and the adjacent buildings, how safe they are. there are two outstanding concerns. first, remaining buildings may collapse.
the remainder of the building may collapse. we need to determine if it's safe for first responders to return to the site, to continue their rescue mission. that's being done right now. and that's why i asked the national institute of standards and technology to investigate, to see if it's safe to go back and what caused the building to collapse in the first place. because we're committed not only to recover, but to restore the safety across the board. but the other reason i came down was to meet with the families. the whole nation is mourning with these families. they see it every day on television. they're going through hell. and those who survived the collapse, as well as those who are missing loved ones. i realize i'm a little late because i spent a lot of time with the family is, -- families, a whole lot of time. i apologize for taking so long
to get here, because i thought it was important to speak to every single person who wanted to speak to me. so after what you all covered when i opened up the meeting, i spent the remainder of the time and i -- such incredible people. i sat with one woman who had just lost her husband and her little baby boy. didn't know what to do. i sat with another family that lost almost an entire family. cousins, brothers, sisters. and to watch them and they're praying and pleading that, god, let there be a miracle. let there be something happening for me that's good. because i have, like many of you do, some idea what it's like to suffer that kind of loss. so many of them are suffering. you know, they had basic heart-wrenching questions. will i be able to recover the body of my son, daughter, husband, cousin, my mom and dad?
how can i have closure without being able to bury them if i don't get body? what do i do? jill and i want them to know that we're with them and the country's with them. our message today is that we're here for you as one nation, as one nation. and that's the message we communicated. we'll be in touch with a lot of these families, continuing through this process. but there's much more to be done. we're ready to do it. and, again, i thank the governor, i thank my colleagues, senator scott and senator rubio. i thank debbie wasserman schultz for their total complete cooperation. there's no disagreement, no bickering, everybody's in the same team. it's what america's all about. it's about pulling together. leaving nobody behind. and that's what made me feel, the one thing that made me feel good about this is the cohesion that exists.
there's no democrat or republican out there. just people wanting to do the right thing for their fellow americans. so, may god bless the victims and their families and may god protect our first responders. and i'll take a couple questions right now. reporter: mr. president, what were you told today about the likelihood, you said, hope springs eternal, but that somebody will be able to be pulled out alive from this? what were you able to convey to the families about that possibility? pres. biden: well, look, first of all, the families are very realistic. they know the longer it goes -- one of the things that the local fema personnel, as well as the local first responders did is they took all of the families to the site to see, to see what it looked like up close. and they're all realists.
they all look and they see those floors, literally heaped cement upon cement, upon cement. when i talk to some of the families, some of the people who did escape, who survived, got out, they talked about watching the building collapse and watching as they were in the garage one floor come down, literally the whole floor on top of another floor. they know that the chances are, as each day goes by they diminish slightly. but at a minimum they want to recover the bodies. there's a lot of very religious people who are in there. members of the rabbis and the jewish community were talking about the need to make sure that they recover the body and be able to bury them. give them -- anyway. i think they're very realistic. but i don't think that that in
any way suggests that we should stop. i think we should move on, continue to try to recover the bodies. in the meantime, that's why many are trying to determine whether or not it's safe to send the first responders back. when they asked me about this, i point out that the last thing they would want and we would want is in the process of trying to recover and the possibility -- there's still a possibility someone could be alive, someone could still be breathing, someone could be there, that the last thing you want to have happen is have that building collapse and kill 10, 20, 30, 50 firefighters or wound them. or first responders. but mike, you know they're , realistic. it just brought back so many memories. it's bad enough -- it's bad enough to lose somebody.
but the hard part, the really hard part is to not know whether they're surviving or not. just not have any idea. when the accident took my wife and my family, the hardest part was, were my boys going to get out? were they going to make it? and not knowing. not knowing. when you are flying home from washington to get the news, you know, you just don't know. so -- but i was amazed, as you know, unfortunately, i've done a lot of these, circumstances where i've met with families who have had great loss. and what amazed me about this group of people was the resilience. their absolute commitment, their willingness to do whatever it took to find an answer.
i walked away impressed by their strength. and, nancy bloomberg, do you have a question? reporter: yeah. thank you. what did you learn if anything about the collapse of the building? is there anything more you learned from investigators or the fema administrator? pres. biden: no, it's under way. the director of fema is with me here. we don't have any firm proof of what happened. there's all kinds of rational speculation about whether or not the rebars are -- whether or not the cement, whether it's limestone or not, whether or not -- but a lot of the families who survived talked about how upset they were that in the last years that they've been here, how there was one condominium
complex built across the street and a road was purchased and -- while they were living there, they'd hear the drilling and they would feel their building moving and shaking. there are all kinds of discussions about whether or not they thought that water level rising, what impact it had. interesting to me, i didn't raise it, but how many of the survivors and how many of the families talked about the impact of global warming. how much -- and they didn't know exactly but they talked about you sea levels rising and about how there were -- and the combination of that and the concern about incoming storms, incoming tropical storms. but i don't think there is at this point any definitive judgment as to why it collapsed and what can be done to prevent
it from happening and what other buildings may have to be inspected to determine if they have the same problems. i'm supposed to head out and catch up with the governor. so i want to thank you all for taking the time. reporter: can i ask you about two matters away from where we are now? first is, while you've been speaking, a top associate of the former president has been in a new york court pleading not guilty to financial charges. do you have a reaction to that and secondarily, if i can, does the supreme court's ruling today on an important voting rights decision add to the sense of urgency you feel about pursuing voting rights legislation at this time? pres. biden: i know nothing about the first circumstance because i've been gone. i don't have any idea so i'm not going to comment on that. even if i did, i wouldn't comment on an ongoing case, if it's an ongoing case. with regard to the second point, i think i did get a summary on the way down of the supreme
court decision. it is mildly positive in the sense that there's a remedy available based on the particular voting decision. i think that it is critical that we make a distinction between voter suppression and suspension, the ability of a state legislative body to come along and vote, their legislature vote to change who is declared the winner. i find to be somewhat astounding. but the supreme court ruled -- did not rule that way today, to the best of my knowledge. and -- but i'll have much more to say about that because i plan on speaking extensively on voting rights and as well as going on the road on this issue. so thank you all very much.
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