At least 4 dead and up to 159 missing after partial building collapse in Florida

Susan Walsh/mpi04/MediaPunch/IPX/AP
Susan Walsh/mpi04/MediaPunch/IPX/AP

The White House is working on setting up a phone call between President Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the wake of the building collapse in Surfside, Florida, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

“We’re working to set up a call between the President and the governor that should be happening this afternoon and we’ll give you all a readout of that when it happens,” Psaki said at Friday’s White House press briefing.

While Biden and DeSantis have not yet spoken since the building collapsed, the governor has been in contact with top White House officials, including chief of staff Ron Klain. Late Thursday night, DeSantis’ office requested an emergency declaration, which the White House approved, allowing for increased federal resources to help with the response.

The Republican governor has been one of Biden’s biggest critics and he is widely seen inside the GOP as a top contender for the 2024 presidential race.

A Florida official familiar with the matter tells CNN that DeSantis finally agreed to ask the White House for assistance at the urging of local officials in Miami-Dade County. The emergency declaration opens the door for federal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies.

Psaki said any decision on the President possible visiting Florida to survey the damage would be made in conjunction with local officials, but she has no trip to preview or predict at the moment.

Biden is expected to address the situation later on Friday.