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Friday, March 5, 2021

Ted Cruz cites “wanting to be a good dad” for traveling to Cancún during Texas power outages

by Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune.

WASHINGTON – As millions of Texans continued to suffer in subfreezing temperatures without power and water, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz traveled with his family to sunny Cancún, Mexico on Wednesday where the temperatures were around 80 degrees.

First spotted at an airport by a social media user who posted his photo, there was an immediate outcry overnight that a U.S. senator would travel out of the state amid the worst storm in many Texans’ lifetimes.

“This has been an infuriating week for Texans. The greatest state in the greatest country in the world has been without power,” the senator said in a Thursday afternoon statement. “We have food lines, gas lines and people sleeping at the neighbors’ houses. Our homes are freezing and our lights are out. Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too.”

“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends,” he added. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”

Typically, in a disaster, a federal officeholder’s primary role is to communicate to the federal branch — including the president — the immediate needs of the district or state. The first official move for a U.S. senator is to send a letter to the president after a governor makes a request for a federal emergency disaster declaration. Cruz and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn wrote such a letter on Feb. 14.

In the throes of a crisis, the onus of executing aid is mostly on a state’s governor. But, as state leaders, senators often help coordinate relief efforts with other public officials, engage in a public information campaign and great care is taken to ensure the senator is in the public eye and showing concern.

The bigger task for senators comes after a crisis, when they must fight for federal money to deal with the damage.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters he was focused on the disaster response and was not paying attention to the matter.

“Candidly, I haven’t been following people’s vacation plans,” he said at a Thursday press conference.

The backlash on Twitter began Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning the state’s junior senator was trending. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement calling on the senator to step down.

“Ted Cruz jetting off to Mexico while Texans remain dying in the cold isn’t surprising but it is deeply disturbing and disappointing,” he said. “Now, he is proving to be an enemy to our state by abandoning us in our greatest time of need. For the 21st time, the Texas Democratic Party calls on Ted Cruz to resign or be expelled from office.”

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