They say everything is bigger in Texas. When it comes to political scandals, this may be true. And if the events of last week are any indication, it surely is true.
Controversy ensued Feb. 15 when heavy snow and freezing temperatures stymied the state’s private power grid leaving millions of Texans in peril. Without electricity, residents faced the threat of hypothermia and officials attributed multiple deaths to the extreme cold.
Those concerns were amplified in hospitals throughout the state where critical care services are provided. New York Times journalists David Montgomery and Simon Romero reported, “at one hospital, the pipes burst, sending water spraying through the emergency room.”
Power outages were especially troubling for patients on dialysis as electricity is required to render treatment.
As the situation worsened, President Joe Biden authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue emergency federal assistance to the state. But as generators and other supplies arrived in Texas, a notable exit occurred. Footage surfaced of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz boarding a flight with his family headed to Cancun, Mexico, Feb. 17.
Public outrage was swift as the optics of Cruz abandoning his constituents in favor of a luxury resort was appalling. The next morning, Cruz announced that he would immediately return to the Lone Star State and assist with recovery efforts.
As Cruz walked through a Cancun airport, he explained his actions to an NBC reporter.
“We had no heat and no power, and yesterday my daughters asked if they could take a trip with some friends, and Heidi and I agreed. So, I flew down with them last night and dropped them off here and now I’m headed back to Texas and back continuing to work to get the power back on.”
Upon returning to Texas, Cruz revealed that he initially planned to stay in Cancun through the weekend and admitted his trip to Mexico was “obviously a mistake.”
Regardless of Cruz’s poor judgment, attention must shift toward the state’s infrastructure. For decades, Texas has stubbornly maintained its electrical independence. Of the 48 continental states, 47 are connected to power grids regulated by the federal government. Texas is the sole holdout as it has fully embraced privatization.
Moving forward, Texas officials should consider energy policies that include the use of federal power grids. Despite the state’s historical preference, their quest for autonomy cannot supersede public safety.