When there was flooding in Midland County Michigan senators visited the region last year to study the damage.
Oregon senators visited places that were affected by major forest fires and asked for more help.
Louisiana senators regularly tower hurricane storm pity in their state.
But as Texas gripped a winter storm that left millions of people without clean water, heat or electricity, Sen. Ted Cruz (right) took a last-minute vacation to Cancun, Mexico.
Nationwide condemnation came swift after people on the plane and at the airport shared photos of the senator. Cruz first blamed his daughters, saying that they wanted to go on a trip and that he was accompanying them simply because he “wanted to be a good father“ – although his wife also came – leaving the impression that he had always wanted the trip to be only for one night. He later made a more apologetic statement, admitting that he had made a mistake and cut his trip short.
“Much of the reaction in the days that followed was driven by partisan Democrats and the media,” Cruz told HuffPost on Tuesday. “I think reporters are stepping back right now for not having Donald Trump to report.”
Some Cruz advocates argued that it was okay for the Senator to leave the country because he really couldn’t do anything anyway. “Do they expect Ted to go in there with, like, a blowtorch and start de-icing all the pipelines?” right-wing specialist Ben Shapiro asked, although he also said Cruz’s trip was a “bad lens”.
But senators say there’s a lot to do during natural disasters – and often just being on the ground is a crucial role.
“Just to make sure the state’s needs are met federally [and] be an intermediary, ”said Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.).
“You show up in person to help people directly,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “You’re helping rally people around a rescue program or any National Guard assistance. You are on the phone or in person, talking to people and working with local authorities all the time. What can I do? What can I do? You have a leading position – you are not the governor, but you have a leading position that you can use to get things done. “
Senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.) Said that when Pennsylvania experiences flooding issues, he tries to connect federal and state agencies to move resources.
“Sometimes just by being there a few days after the fact, communities have been inundated – they appreciate that, even though they know you don’t come with a check or a definitive guarantee of support,” he said. “They just want to be able to connect with you.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) echoed this, saying, “When there is a huge crisis in your own state, sometimes the best thing to do is to be on the ground because it gives you an overview of what’s going on.
It is true that politicians are not always helpful right away. They need to be careful not to divert resources and attention away from victim assistance, and there is a difference between helping and hosting a photoshoot.
But many other public figures were helping Texas.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) raised almost $ 5 million for Texas relief efforts and traveled to the state to help distribute supplies. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) – who ran for President in 2020 and the Senate in 2018 – held more than 780,000 wellness calls to seniors after storms.
“The problem is, people are suffering. You have to try to do whatever you can, ”said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who spoke about his own experience responding to tropical storms and volcanic eruptions.
“Sometimes it’s just the little things, giving a helping hand physically,” he added. “Sometimes you’re on the phone with the region 9 administrator for FEMA or the governor. It is true that you do not have a formal role in the chain of command, but a Senate office has tons of resources.
On Saturday, after returning from Mexico to Texas, Cruz tried to be forgiven by distributing bottled water to residents in shortage in the middle of the winter storm. He shared pictures of him online as if nothing had happened, writing #TexasStrong in a Twitter post.
“My goal has been to understand why 4 million Texans have lost power and the political steps we need to take to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Cruz said of the disaster on Tuesday. “That was my goal as this was happening and continues to be where I think the Texans’ priority is.”
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