“It was obviously a mistake,” said Texas senator Ted Cruz after returning from Cancun as thousands were still without power and running water following a winter storm that battered Texas in recent days.
Widely berated for vacationing amid the crisis, Mr Cruz admitted to wrongdoing only after his trip was cut short on Thursday afternoon, having taken off from Houston on Wednesday evening, with suitcases in tow.
Critics suggested Mr Cruz should have anticipated the reaction, after he attacked a Democratic mayor who travelled during the Covid-19 pandemic in December.
“Hypocrites,” the senator wrote of Austin’s Democratic mayor, Stephen Adler, who reportedly recorded a Covid-19 safety video while vacationing at a Mexican resort.
“And don't forget Mayor Adler who took a private jet with eight people to Cabo [San Lucas, Mexico] and WHILE IN CABO recorded a video telling Austinites to "stay home if you can... this is not the time to relax’,” wrote Mr Cruz.
On Thursday, the tables were turned on the Texas senator, as Democrats attacked his trip while thousands were without power and other crucial supplies.
Temperatures on Sunday reached as low as 0F (-18C), causing widespread power outages, burst water pipes, and wider disruption, with as many as 21 people killed in weather-related incidents since Sunday.
"People in Texas are literally freezing to death and yet Ted Cruz went on vacation to Cancun," wrote Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on Twitter.
Lizzie Fletcher, a Democrat who represents Mr Cruz’s district in Congress, also called for “leadership” on Thursday, and wrote on Twitter that there was “great need in this moment” for lawmakers to direct the response to the crisis.
The Texas Democratic Party, meanwhile, called for Mr Cruz’s resignation, with its chairman, Gilberto Hinojsa, saying the senator was “a politician that really has never cared much about anybody but himself.”
Mr Cruz told broadcaster ABC13 afterwards that with “hindsight” he wouldn’t have travelled with his wife and teenage daughters to the Mexican beach resort while Texans were in crisis.
Admitting he had had "second thoughts” as the plane took off from Houston Airport, Mr Cruz — who said in a written statement that his daughters had asked for the Cancun vacation — said to ABC13 that "leaving when so many Texans were hurting didn't feel right.”
“And so I changed my return flight and flew back on the first available flight I could take,” said Mr Cruz, who reportedly planned on vacationing until Sunday, as the New York Times reported.
The senator added in the written statement that his “team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies