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HOUSTON, Texas -- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he was "wanting to be a good dad" when he was seen flying to a vacation destination in the midst of an energy and water crisis in his own state.

After his return to Houston, he quickly admitted that he regrets the decision to plan the getaway with his family.

On Thursday, the high-profile Republican lawmaker said his family lost heat and power, a similar fate that millions of his fellow Texans have endured since Monday.

In a statement, he said he flew with his daughters who asked to take a trip with friends, assuring he was on his way back to Texas Thursday afternoon.

"Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. 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 said.

Cruz's office told ABC News the senator tested for COVID-19 Thursday morning to comply with mandates on traveling to the U.S.

Earlier in the day, the Associated Press reported Cruz went for a long-planned trip to Cancun and was expected to return almost immediately, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations. A source familiar with the senator's travel schedule told ABC News Cruz was scheduled to return to Texas on Saturday with his family.

The report, before Cruz's statement, only deepened when the Houston Police Department confirmed a member of the senator's staff contacted the department at Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday to request assistance for Cruz's arrival.

"Upon Senator Cruz's arrival at Terminal E, HPD officers monitored his movements through the terminal," said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

HPD was expected to escort Cruz once he arrives at the Houston airport, ABC News has learned.

The revelation opens Cruz, a key ally of former President Donald Trump, to fierce bipartisan criticism in Texas and beyond as he contemplates the possibility of a second presidential run in 2024. The two-term senator's current term expires in early 2025.

"That's something that he has to answer to his constituents about," state Republican Party Chairman Allen West said when asked whether Cruz's travel was appropriate while Texans are without power and water.

"I'm here trying to take care of my family and look after my friends and others that are still without power," West said. "That's my focus."

Hundreds of thousands of people in Texas woke up Thursday to a fourth day without power, and a water crisis was unfolding after winter storms wreaked havoc on the state's power grid and utilities.

Texas officials ordered 7 million people - one-quarter of the population of the nation's second-largest state - to boil tap water before drinking the water, after days of record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and froze pipes.
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Hundreds of thousands of people in Texas are waking up Thursday to a fourth day without power.

In Austin, some hospitals faced a loss in water pressure and in some cases, heat.

Cruz's office has declined to release any details about the family vacation, but his staff reached out to the Houston Police Department on Wednesday afternoon to say the senator would be arriving at the airport, according to department spokeswoman Jodi Silva. She said officers "monitored his movements" while Cruz was at the airport.

Silva could not say whether such requests are typical for Cruz's travel or whether his staff has made a similar request for his return flight.

U.S. Capitol Police officials and the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms have encouraged lawmakers and their staff to be conscious of potential threats and to consider advising law enforcement about their travel at airports and other transportation hubs.

Cruz has been demonized by the left even before he ran for president in 2016. In more recent years, he has positioned himself as a Trump loyalist with an eye toward a potential second White House bid.
The Texas senator, who once described Trump as a "pathological liar," championed the-then president's call to block the certification last month of Democrat Joe Biden's election victory. That stand led to calls for Cruz's resignation after a violent mob stormed the Capitol as Congress was affirming Biden's win.

"Ted Cruz had already proven to be an enemy to our democracy by inciting an insurrection. Now, he is proving to be an enemy to our state by abandoning us in our greatest time of need," Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said Thursday. "For the 21st time, the Texas Democratic Party calls on Ted Cruz to resign or be expelled from office."

Cruz's office dismissed calls for his resignation earlier in the month.

"The left - and some grifters on the right - are consumed by partisan anger and rage," his office said in a written statement. "Sen. Cruz will continue to work for 29 million Texans in the Senate."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Miyares Joins Amicus Brief Supporting Decision to Vacate Travel Mask Mandate

Attorney General Jason Miyares joined an amicus brief opposing the Biden administration’s ongoing lawsuit over the CDC’s mask mandate for interstate travel. A district court vacated the requirement, but the CDC appealed, and the Health Freedom Defense Fund v. Biden case is now in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

“Mask Mandates across the country have been lifted in virtually every aspect of daily life. For months, Americans have been traveling safely while making their own, autonomous decisions. The CDC mask mandate on public transportation, like air travel, is obsolete and no longer necessary – not to mention a clear example of federal overreach,” Miyares said in a release.

Miyares joined 22 other attorneys general on the brief, led by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Other interested parties have also filed amicus briefs. In June a group of public health leaders including six former CDC heads and one FDA head filed a brief. They argued that the mask requirement was one of the CDC’s core regulatory powers aimed in part at limiting infectious disease spread through travel.

“To accomplish this purpose, Congress granted the CDC flexibility to design measures to combat new contagious diseases. The CDC’s Mask Mandate is not only a proper exercise of that authority; it is precisely the type of federal action for which the CDC was established,” that brief argued, saying the mandate fits “comfortably within the plain text” of U.S. Code.

The brief from the public health leaders explained, “First, the Mask Mandate is a ‘sanitation’ measure, as that term was historically understood — both popularly and especially in the public health context. Second, the masking requirement falls squarely within the statute’s catchall clause, which sweeps in ‘other measures’ that the CDC deems necessary to prevent the spread of disease.”

The August 8 brief from the attorneys general also focuses on the CDC’s authority granted by U.S. Code, arguing that the mask mandate exceeds the authority granted in the code and wasn’t implemented through proper notice and comment procedures.

The attorneys general added, “The mask mandate is also arbitrary and capricious. For one, the mandate has numerous exceptions that CDC did not explain or justify. Beyond that, the mandate violates CDC’s own regulations. CDC regulations say that it cannot act unless it finds local measures inadequate. But here, CDC never even studied local measures, much less developed a method to determine whether those measures are adequate.”

The attorneys general summarized: “The district court properly vacated the mask mandate nationwide.”

– – –

Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jason Miyares” by Jason Miyares. 




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