Thursday, March 4

Senator travels to Mexico while millions in Texas are without power

(CNN Español) — Senator Ted Cruz and his family traveled to Cancun, Mexico, as the legislator himself confirmed to CNN, amid a winter disaster in Texas that has left millions of people without electricity and water.

Cruz, a Republican senator, said in a statement to CNN that he traveled for one night because his daughters “asked to take a trip with friends.”

“Because school was canceled during the week, our girls asked us to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good father, I flew with them last night and will return this afternoon, “Cruz said in the statement. “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 the electricity supply to return, the water supply and our homes to be warm. My team and I will continue to use all of our resources to keep Texans informed and safe. “

Ted Cruz tested negative for COVID-19 before returning, an aide told CNN.

His statement comes hours after several Twitter users posted photos showing Cruz and his family at the Houston airport and on board a flight to Cancun, Mexico.

LOOK: Ted Cruz, in the eye of the hurricane for a trip to Cancun while Texas freezes

The trip was immediately criticized. Texas State Congressman Gene Wu, a Democrat representing Southwest Houston and who tweeted a photo of Cruz aboard the flight, noted that Cruz was traveling “while the state is freezing to death and having to boil the water.”

LOOK: PHOTOS | Stunning Images: Winter Storms Wreak Havoc in America

Cruz’s office also requested that the Houston Police Department assist the senator during his departure from Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told CNN on Thursday.

The police request from Cruz’s office is not unusual, as law enforcement agencies have advised members of Congress to seek police assistance while traveling by plane.

Congress is not in session this week. Meanwhile, millions of people in Texas were left without electricity or clean water at the start of a freezing storm earlier in the week.

Cruz retweeted notices about electricity and also messages from Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday. However, he has remained silent on social media on Thursday. In a radio interview on mondayCruz told people to “stay home” and not “take chances. Keep your family safe, stay home and take care of your children.

As a popularly elected official for federal office, Cruz does not have a role on the ground in response to the storm. But, natural disasters are often a time when voters turn to their officials for help and access to resources.

LOOK: Families are making bonfires with baby toys and sleeping in cars to keep warm. These are the stories of the Texas storm

Responsibility for power outages has largely been attributed to the Texas Electrical Reliability Council (Ercot).

Gov. Abbott said Wednesday afternoon that he spoke with the lieutenant governor and the president of the state legislature, and that an investigation into Ercot is scheduled to begin next week.

But in the meantime, millions of Texans were left without electricity and running water in the wake of the storm. Power is slowly being restored to homes.

Since the previous Thursday, 16 people in Texas have died due to extreme weather, according to a CNN tally.

CNN’s Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.

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