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Harris did not say any particular race would be prioritized in relief efforts.
The White House said her comments about equity were referring to long-term, bipartisan investments in underserved communities, not immediate hurricane relief.
There is nothing on a FEMA webpage for Hurricane Ian victims or the federal Disaster Assistance Improvement Program specific to race or equity, just information about how Floridians affected by the storm can get help. Elsewhere, FEMA’s website does address the agency's efforts to improve equity in services “so all people, including those from vulnerable and underserved communities, can get help when they need it.”
After Hurricane Ian made landfall in both southwest Florida and South Carolina, an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris stirred up its own storm.
Harris was speaking with actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas on Sept. 30 before the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. She paused to listen as Chopra Jonas spent a minute and 12 seconds asking a winding series of questions about Hurricane Ian relief efforts, the Biden administration’s climate efforts in the U.S. and the global implications of climate change.
"I’m gonna unpack that question," Harris responded with a laugh, before giving a more-than-five-minute answer that touched on a number of topics, including Hurricane Ian, the Biden administration’s climate policies and disparities among those harmed by climate change.
But conservatives, including Florida Sen. Rick Scott, seized on a shortened, out-of-context clip of Harris’ answer to make it seem as if Harris said federal storm relief would be based solely on race and equity.
Scott, a Republican, claimed on CBS’ "Face the Nation" on Sunday that Harris said relief would be "faster" if you "have a different skin color."
Host Margaret Brennan said "disasters are a time when people can come together" and asked Scott about what she described as "disturbing rhetoric" from former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
Brennan asked Scott whether he rebuked those comments, but he focused on Harris instead.
"I think what we got to do is we got to bring everybody together," Scott said. "I'd also say that what Vice President Harris said yesterday or the day before yesterday, that, you know if you have a different skin color, you're going to get relief faster, that’s not helpful either."
When Brennan said that wasn’t what Harris had said, Scott shot back, "That's exactly what she meant."
We reached out to Scott’s office for evidence to back his claim but have not heard back.
Conservative activist Ryan Fournier said in a tweet that Harris "said the administration will be giving hurricane resources ‘based on equity’ by directing funds to ‘communities of color.’" Fournier’s post received more than a million video views and responses from high-profile people like Elon Musk and Christina Pushaw with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election campaign.
The full exchange between Chopra Jonas and Harris shows that neither the question nor the answer was solely about Hurricane Ian relief money, but touched on several topics.
Watch the full exchange below.
Scott claimed Harris said, "if you have a different skin color, you're going to get relief faster" after Hurricane Ian.
Harris said no such thing in a response to a question that touched on several topics, including Hurricane Ian, climate change policy and disparities in who is most harmed by climate change and extreme weather.
We rate this claim False.
Clarification, Oct. 6, 2022: This story has been updated to clarify that the FEMA webpage for Hurricane Ian victims linked to in this story doesn’t mention race or equity. Elsewhere, the agency’s website does discuss its efforts regarding equity. The rating is unchanged.
CBS, "Transcript: Sen. Rick Scott on "Face the Nation"," Oct. 2, 2022
CBS, "Transcript: FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell," Oct. 2, 2022
Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, emailed statement, Oct., 3, 2022
Now This News, YouTube, "Kamala Harris at Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum," Sept. 30, 2022
Nandita Bose, Reuters reporter, tweet on Oct. 3, 2022
Federal Emergency Management Association, "Florida Hurricane Ian," accessed Oct. 2, 2022
Disaster Assistance Improvement Program, homepage," accessed Oct. 2, 2022
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