When there was flooding in Midland County final yr, Michigan’s senators went to the realm to survey the harm.
But when Texas was within the grip of a winter storm that left thousands and thousands of individuals with out clear water, warmth or electrical energy, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) went on a last-minute trip to Cancun, Mexico.
The nationwide condemnation was swift after individuals on the airplane and on the airport shared photographs of the senator. Cruz initially blamed his daughters, saying they needed to go on a visit and he was simply accompanying them as a result of he “wanted to be a good dad” ― regardless that his spouse additionally got here alongside ― leaving the impression that he had all the time meant the journey to be for only one night time. He later gave a more apologetic statement, admitting he had made a mistake and had reduce his journey brief.
“Much of the reaction in the days that followed was driven by partisan Democrats and the news media,” Cruz instructed HuffPost on Tuesday. “I think reporters are in withdrawal right now from not having Donald Trump to report on.”
Some Cruz defenders argued that it was superb for the senator to depart the nation as a result of there actually wasn’t something he may do anyway. “Do they expect Ted to go there with, like, a blowtorch and start defrosting all of the pipelines?” requested right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro, although he additionally stated Cruz’s journey was “bad optics.”
But senators say there’s loads for them to do throughout pure disasters ― and infrequently, simply being on the bottom is an important position.
“Just to make sure the state needs are taken care of at the federal level [and] be a conduit,” stated Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
“You show up in person to help people directly,” stated Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “You help to rally people around a rescue package or any help from the National Guard. You’re on the phone or in person talking to people and working with local officials all the time. What can I do? What can I do? You have a prominent position ― you’re not the governor, but you have a prominent position you can use to do things.”
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) stated that when Pennsylvania experiences flooding issues, he tries to attach federal and state companies to get the assets flowing.
“Sometimes just being there a few days after the fact, communities have been flooded ― they appreciate that, even if they know you’re not coming with a check or a definitive guarantee of support,” he stated. “They just want to be able to connect with you.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) echoed that, saying, “When there’s a huge crisis in your own state, sometimes the best thing to do is be on the ground because it gives you insights as to what’s happening.”
It’s true that politicians aren’t all the time useful straight away. They must watch out to not divert assets and a spotlight away from aiding victims, and there’s a distinction between serving to and staging a photo-op.
But loads of different public figures have been serving to out Texas.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) raised almost $5 million for Texas reduction efforts and traveled to the state to assist distribute provides. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) ― who ran for president in 2020 and Senate in 2018 ― organized volunteers to make more than 780,000 wellness calls to senior residents after the storms.
“The whole point is people are suffering. You need to try to do whatever you can,” stated Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who talked about his personal expertise responding after tropical storms and volcanic eruptions.
“Sometimes it’s just doing small things, just lending a hand physically,” he added. “Sometimes you’re on the phone with the Region 9 administrator for FEMA or the governor. It’s true that you don’t have a role that is formally within the chain of command, but a Senate office has tons of resources.”
On Saturday, after he returned to Texas from Mexico, Cruz tried to make amends by handing out bottled water to residents experiencing shortages amid the winter storm. He shared photos of himself on-line as if nothing occurred, writing #TexasSturdy in a publish on Twitter.
“My focus has been on understanding why 4 million Texans lost power and the policy steps we need to take to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Cruz stated of the catastrophe on Tuesday. “That was my focus as it was happening and continues to be where I think the priority of Texans is.”
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