President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Maui on Monday – just under two weeks since flames first started to engulf the island, resulting in the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in more than a century. 

What You Need To Know

  • Biden will travel to Maui on Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced in a statement on Wednesday 

  • The White House says Biden will meet with first responders, survivors and federal, state and local officials on the ground

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Hawaii Gov. Josh Green advised next week was the right time to visit, taking into account search and recovery efforts on the ground 
  • Biden has faced criticism from Republicans about his response to the crisis, but the White House has pushed back on their condemnation, pointing to the federal response to the tragedy, including Biden issuing a disaster declaration

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made the announcement in a statement on Wednesday.

“In Maui, the President and First Lady will be welcomed by state and local leaders to see firsthand the impacts of the wildfires and the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred on the island, as well as discuss the next steps in the recovery effort,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement. 

Jean-Pierre added the president will meet with first responders and survivors. 

Since the start of the wildfires, the White House has emphasized Biden’s “whole-of-government response.” Administration officials point to Biden signing a major disaster declaration and ordering all available federal resources to help with the crisis. 

The fires have killed at least 106 people and local officials say they expect that number to rise. 

The president spoke about the devastation in Hawaii at the top of his remarks honoring the anniversaries of some of his signature legislation on Thursday of last week and Tuesday of this week. However, he has faced criticism for not giving additional public comments or individual remarks on the topic. 

Republicans have also pointed to Biden spending the weekend at his beach house in Rehoboth Beach amid the crisis. The White House this week faced a slew of questions surrounding if and when Biden would be on the ground in Maui. 

Jean-Pierre noted in Wednesday’s statement that Hawaii Gov. Josh Green advised next week was the right time to visit, taking into account the ongoing recovery efforts. 

“Over the past week, President Biden has stayed closely in touch with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Hawaii Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, as well as Hawaii Governor Josh Green, who advised that the search and recovery efforts are expected to be at a stage early next week to allow for a presidential visit,” she wrote. 

During a speech on the anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act on Tuesday, Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden were going to travel to Hawaii as soon as they can, but did not want to “disrupt the ongoing recovery efforts.” 

“That’s what I’ve been talking with the governor about. I don’t want to get in the way -- I’ve been to too many disaster areas,” he said. 

The administration also emphasizes there are more than 500 personnel on the ground assisting in recovery efforts.