Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., raised $3.2 million for relief efforts in Texas as of Friday night before visiting Houston to help in the recovery effort.
"I think this shows that New York stands with you, but the whole country stands with you," Ocasio-Cortez said in a press conference outside a food bank, where she spent the morning volunteering.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, who represents the Houston area and joined Ocasio-Cortez Saturday, praised the congresswoman for her efforts. "That's, that's pretty big even for Texas sizes," Garcia said of the $3.2 million raised.
The funds raised by the progressive lawmaker will go toward 12 food banks and relief organizations, including the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, Family Eldercare, Feeding Texas and the Houston Food Bank, according to the donations page.
“Charity isn’t always a replacement for good governance, but we won’t turn away from helping people in need when things hit the fan,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Friday.
Ocasio-Cortez, Garcia and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who also represents the Houston area, distributed supplies to help the millions of Texans lacking basic necessities in the wake of a record-breaking winter storm that has left at least 46 dead in 10 states, the majority in Texas, and millions across the country without heat, water or electricity.
Some critics have argued that the catastrophe was avoidable, blaming the state’s independent, insufficiently equipped power grid and deregulatory policies under its GOP governance.
"Texans do not want to go through this again. They want accountability. They want to know why the system failed and quite frankly, almost broke," Garcia said Saturday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has come under fire for vacationing with his family in Cancún, Mexico, amid the crisis. Facing a barrage of calls to resign on social media, Cruz told reporters on Thursday that the decision to leave the country was “obviously a mistake.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who last month accused the senator of “trying to get me killed” by stoking claims of election fraud ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, took to Twitter again on Thursday to say Texans should demand the senator’s resignation.
“If Sen. Cruz had resigned back in January after helping gin up a violent insurrection that killed several people, he could’ve taken his vacation in peace,” she tweeted.
The senator defended his actions in a Thursday press statement, noting that he “want[ed] to be a good dad” by taking his daughters on the trip and that he returned to Texas “on the first available flight” after originally planning a longer stay.
It was also announced Friday that Cruz was named as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations, and Innovation.