Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will help distribute supplies and rally support for Texas residents hit by widespread power outages and freezing conditions during her visit to the state after raising more than $2 million for relief within 48 hours.
The New York congresswoman said she will meet with US Rep Sylvia Garcia of Houston to “distribute supplies and help amplify needs [and] solutions” on Friday.
“Charity isn’t a replacement for good governance, but we won’t turn away from helping people in need when things hit the fan,” she said on Twitter. “People understand that now is the time for collective action and doing what we can [with] whatever we’ve got.”
Her visit follows the return of Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who fled the state with his family to Cancun, Mexico on Wednesday and returned on Thursday after he was roundly condemned for appearing to abandon his state during the crisis, as his GOP allies and right-wing media came to his defence.
Read more: Follow live winter storm updates
“Do they expect Ted to go there with, like, a blowtorch and start defrosting all of the pipelines?” right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro said.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez amplified calls for aid through her massive campaign operation and social media networks on Wednesday evening. Four hours later, the fundraiser topped $1 million. On Friday morning, it reached $2 million.
Her office helped raise thousands of donations for Family Eldercare, Feeding Texas, Houston Food Bank, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition and the Bridge Homeless Recovery Centre.
Roughly 13 million Texans remain under boil-water advisories while thousands of homes are still without power, after a rare winter storm crippled the state’s critical energy infrastructure. At least 58 people nationwide have died from the storms, including carbon monoxide poisoning, car accidents, house fires and hypothermia.
The lawmakers have repeatedly clashed on social media, including during the Capitol insurrection and its aftermath. The senator sought to reject electoral college results from Arizona and Pennsylvania during a joint session of Congress to certify them, hours after a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the results. Ms Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic officials have called on him to resign.
“If Sen Cruz had resigned back in January after helping gin up a violent insurrection that killed several people, he could’ve taken his vacation in peace,” she said on Thursday. “Texans should continue to demand his resignation.”
Beto O’Rourke, who lost to Mr Cruz in the state’s 2018 senate race, has also helped organise phone banks to reach thousands of senior citizens in the state and connect them to food, shelter and other services.
On Thursday, he said of Mr Cruz on MSNBC: “I understand he’s vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state he was elected to represent and serve.”
President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday that he initially planned to travel to Texas next week but he did not want to be a “burden” on local officials, emergency crews and logistics for his required presidential detail.
“They’re working like the devil to take care of their folks,” he said. “If in fact it’s concluded that I can do it without creating a burden for the folks on the ground while they’re dealing with this crisis, I plan on going.”
The president is expected to sign a major disaster declaration for the state, as early as Friday afternoon.
“It is a significant footprint for a president travel to a state, especially for a state that is still recovering from a disaster, so we are taking all of that into consideration before making specific plans,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
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