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Cruz at the airport in Cancún returning to Texas. Photo: MEGA/GC Images

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) flew to Cancún, Mexico, on Wednesday with plans to "stay through the weekend," as hundreds of thousands of his constituents went without power and heat in Texas after a winter storm caused deadly outages.

The latest: Addressing reporters outside his Houston home on Thursday, Cruz admitted his original intentions, but claimed he started having second thoughts "almost the moment I sat down on the plane."

What he's saying: Travel plans were made after his daughters wanted to go somewhere "not so cold" amid the outages, Cruz said.

  • "As parents, we have a responsibility to take care of our family ... but I also have a responsibility that I take very seriously of fighting for the state of Texas," he added.
  • "Frankly, leaving when so many Texans were hurting didn't feel right and so I ... flew back on the first available flight I could take."
  • “It was obviously a mistake, and in hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it."
  • He said he understood why people were upset, but suggested the "venom and vitriol" of Twitter and the media fed into it.
  • It's "unfortunate" his trip became a "distraction" from Texans' suffering, he added.
  • Earlier on Thursday, Cruz said in statement that in "wanting to be a good dad," he accompanied his daughters on the flight to Mexico for a vacation they wanted to take.

The big picture: While Cruz has no direct control over the power situation in Texas as a federal lawmaker, outraged critics argued the senator should be stateside trying to find solutions for his constituents.

  • More than 30 people have died as a result of the extreme weather sweeping across the South this week.
  • The Texas Democratic Party has called on Cruz to resign. Cruz's former Senate opponent Beto O'Rourke is coordinating volunteer efforts to check in on senior citizens in Texas.

Between the lines: The CDC has advised that individuals "should avoid all travel to Mexico" due to the coronavirus pandemic and that "[a]ll air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test" before boarding a U.S.-bound flight.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Cruz's comments to reporters on Thursday.

Go deeper

Biden administration sending generators to Texas amid power outages

Austin, Texas, on Monday. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Wednesday that the Biden administration is sending emergency generators to Texas amid ongoing power outages and freezing weather.

Why it matters: Huge swaths of Texas have been without electricity for days due to critical failures in the state's power grid. The outages come while a winter storm continues to pummel the state, causing unsafe conditions and a desperate need for heat.

In photos: Winter emergency in Texas

A line outside a Fiesta Mart grocery store in Houston, Texas, Feb. 17. Texans have been running out of food and other supplies, and the cold weather has "wiped out" the state's citrus and vegetable crops, the Texas Tribune reports. Photo: Thomas Shea/AFP via Getty Images

Millions of Americans are still without power during the winter weather emergency that's sweeping the U.S. — including nearly 1.8 million Texans, per utility tracker poweroutage.us. Some have also lost water services.

The big picture: Texas has been particularly badly hit by the deadly storm, with infrastructure damaged and pipes frozen. Officials told some 7 million Texans Wednesday to boil tap water before drinking it.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Feb 17, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The changing climate for U.S. power

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The crisis gripping Texas' power grid is very different from California's fiery emergencies in recent years, but there's connective tissue there: Electricity grids and infrastructure need to be better equipped for a changing climate or they can have deadly consequences.

Driving the news: Texas is reeling after a bitter blast of Arctic air and a related demand surge led to widespread outages, causing millions of customers to lose power that as of this morning is only partially restored.