Billy House and Steven T. DennisThu, 18 February 2021, 10:50 pm
(Bloomberg) — Senator Ted Cruz returned to Texas after coming under harsh criticism for flying to Cancun, Mexico with his family while the state he represents is dealing with widespread power outages in the wake of a historic winter storm.
Footage from Houston television station KHOU showed the Republican arriving at the airport Thursday afternoon after flying to the Mexican resort city the day before.
“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” Cruz said in a statement earlier in the day. “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.”
Cruz’s statement came many hours after pictures of him at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport circulated on social media, and after Houston Police confirmed that Cruz’s staff had asked for department’s help at his departure Wednesday.
“A member of his staff reached out to the police department asking for assistance yesterday regarding his arrival at Terminal A,” Houston Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said.
The trip triggered outrage and criticism from Democrats as about 500,000 homes and businesses in Texas remained without electricity Thursday morning after a severe winter storm pummeled the state for days. That’s down from more than 3 million on Wednesday.
More than 7 million Texans are under orders to boil water after power outages robbed utilities of the ability to keep pumping, which allowed pressure to drop to levels at which bacteria could proliferate. The bitter cold burst pipes in houses built for 100-degree summers, and temperatures aren’t expected to get much above freezing until Saturday for most of the state.
“This has been an infuriating week for Texans,” Cruz said, in his statement. “Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too.”
The Senate has been in recess since Saturday when Cruz was among those who voted to acquit former President Donald Trump of the impeachment charge of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Cruz has been an outspoken defender of the former president, even though the two clashed in the 2016 presidential campaign when they were both seeking the Republican nomination. Cruz, who would be up for re-election in 2024, is one of several GOP senators eyeing a bid for the Republican presidential nomination that year.
The Democratic Party of Texas called on Cruz to resign Thursday for leaving his constituents in the middle of a disaster.
“Ted Cruz jetting off to Mexico while Texans remain dying in the cold isn’t surprising but it is deeply disturbing and disappointing,” state party chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.
Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who was Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration, said in a tweet that members of Congress “play a critical role connecting their constituents to emergency services and assistance. @tedcruz should be on the phone with federal agencies, not on a trip to Mexico.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, said “it’s certainly much warmer where he’s going,” when asked about Cruz’s travel during a media briefing on the city’s winter-storm response on Thursday.
President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Texas and other states that have been impacted by the historic winter storm.
At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration is focused on working with state officials in addressing the crisis “and we expect that would be the focus of anyone in the state or surrounding states, who was elected to represent them.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said Wednesday he was banning gas from leaving the state through Feb. 21 to ensure in-state power generators had ample supplies. Less than 24 hours later, Texas’s top energy regulator told gas producers to offer supplies for sale in-state before shipping it elsewhere, citing the governor’s mandate.
“We will continue to exhaust all available methods to restore power for Texans and ensure that our communities can recover,” Abbott said.
(Corrects the spelling of San Antonio in the 13th paragraph.)
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
TALK OF PUTTING THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS FIRST!!! WHAT SENATOR, WILL TRAVEL TO MEXICO WITH HIS FAMILY, WHEN HIS OWN CONSTITUENCY IS GOING THROUGH HELL? I THOUGHT HE WAS SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF HIS CONSTITUENCY? WHAT A COMPLETE DISGRACE!!!