Sen. Ted Cruz. Brynn Anderson/AP
  • Sen. Ted Cruz is heading back to Houston from Cancun, Mexico, on Thursday.

  • He said he took the trip at the behest of his kids because he wanted “to be a good dad.”

  • Cruz is facing intense backlash for leaving Texas during a deadly winter storm.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is traveling back to Houston from Cancun, Mexico, on Thursday, CNN first reported, as he faces on onslaught of criticism for taking a vacation while his state faces a severe winter storm.

The family trip had been planned a long time ago, but Cruz was expected to return imminently, a source told The Associated Press. Images appearing to show Cruz on a standby list for a flight from Cancun to Houston also surfaced on social media on Thursday morning, but his name eventually disappeared.

Cruz left for Mexico on Wednesday. Several hours after the news broke on his trip to Cancun, Cruz in a statement confirmed his plans to return to Texas on Thursday.

“This has been an infuriating week for Texas,” Cruz said. “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.”

The Texas lawmaker said his team had been in “constant communication” with state and local leaders to “get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.”

Cruz was originally planning on flying back to Houston on Saturday, according to what an unidentified source at United Airlines told Skift reporter Edward Russell, but early on Thursday morning changed his flight to return later that day. This has not been independently verified by Insider.

The Texas senator has not said specified whether he always planned on coming back on Thursday, or if he altered prior plans. It’s unclear if the backlash to his Cancun trip led Cruz to shift his itinerary. When Insider contacted his office for clarification, Cruz’s press secretary responded by sending the statement he released earlier in the day.

The storm has left millions of Texans without power, heat, or potable water amid record-low temperatures. People were enraged by the prospect of the senator abandoning his state as it struggled to contend with the widespread devastation.

Cruz drew sharp criticism on Twitter over his Cancun trip, some of it coming from his fellow congressional lawmakers.

Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat and former House member who ran against Cruz in 2018, excoriated the Texas senator over his trip. In an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, O’Rourke said Cruz had a role in the Capitol attack on January 6 and took a swipe at the Texas Republican for leaving their state when he did.

“Unless we hold those responsible accountable for what they did – yes, that means Donald Trump, but it also means the junior senator from the state of Texas, who I understand is vacationing in Cancun right now, when people are literally freezing to death in the state he was elected to represent and serve,” O’Rourke said.

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