Sen. Ted Cruz and his family flew to Cancun, Mexico, he confirmed in a statement to CNN, as a winter disaster in his home state left millions without power or water.
Cruz, a Texas Republican, said in the statement he flew down for a night because his daughters “asked to take a trip with friends.”
“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” he 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 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.”
Cruz tested negative for Covid-19 before returning, an aide told CNN.
His statement comes hours after multiple Twitter users posted photos showing Cruz and his family at Houston’s airport and aboard a flight bound for Cancun, Mexico.
The trip was immediately criticized, including by Texas state Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat representing southwest Houston, who tweeted a photo of Cruz aboard a flight, saying Cruz was flying south “while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water.”
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 Thursday.
The police request from Cruz’s office is not unusual as members of Congress have been advised by law enforcement to seek police assistance as they travel by air.
Congress is not in session this week following the President’s Day holiday.
Cruz, who was retweeting notices about electricity and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday, has been silent on social media Thursday.
In a radio interview Monday, Cruz told people to “stay home” and not “risk it. Keep your family safe and just stay home and hug your kids.”
As an official elected to federal office, Cruz doesn’t have an on-the-ground role in the response to the storm, but natural disasters are often a time in which constituents often reach out to their elected officials for help and access to resources.
The blame for the outages has largely been placed on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
Abbott said Wednesday afternoon that he spoke with both the lieutenant governor and the state speaker and that an investigation of ERCOT is slated to begin next week.
But in the meantime, millions of Texans were left without power or running water in the wake of the storm. Power is slowly being restored to homes.
Since last Thursday, 16 Texans have died due to the extreme weather, according to a CNN tally.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.