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Sen. John Cornyn wants to join Bidens on Houston trip to examine storm aftermath

Matthew Brown, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, expressed interest in accompanying President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on a trip to Houston on Friday following a winter weather crisis in the state.

"We haven't gotten clear signals from the administration in terms of what their travel schedule is," Cornyn told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. "But if I could do that I would. I would like to do that. I think it would be appropriate," the senator said.

At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki said it's uncertain whether any Texas officials will be traveling with the Bidens to the Lone Star State, noting "some limitations on space available" on Air Force One.

Gov. Greg Abbott will be spending the day with Biden in Texas traveling across the state to survey the storm damage, Psaki said.

Mid-February, winter storms crippled Texas' energy grid and blackouts implemented by state officials and power companies left large swaths of the state at times without power and heat as frigid temperatures cascaded across the state. Frozen pipes also meant no water or boil water advisories for many residents

More: Texas' winter storm could make life worse for Black and Latino families hit hard by power outages

On Saturday, Biden approved a state of emergency in Texas and directed resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Federal aid can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Cornyn has been criticized in recent days for not being present in the Lone Star State as the winter storms turned deadly. Earlier in the week, the hashtags “#WheresCornyn?” and “#WheresJohnCornyn” were both trending on Twitter. His staff told local media he was unable to return to Texas from Washington because of the weather, but worked with state and local officials from D.C.

Watch: 'Snownado' filmed over Texas lake

More: As winter storm moves into Northeast, Texans will see better weather ahead

Biden talked about his trip to Texas with Abbott and other governors as he addressed the National Governors Association winter meeting in a Thursday Zoom call.

“Gov. Abbott, I don’t want to ruin your reputation," Biden said. "But I look forward to coming down tomorrow to Houston to be with you. And I want you and the residents to know that we’re here to provide the federal assistance you need to support your state."

The state's other U.S. senator, Republican Ted Cruz, was embroiled in a scandal amidfrigid weather when reports surfaced that he had left Texas with his family to stay in Cancun, Mexico, while millions remained without power.

Cruz later said the trip was “obviously a mistake” after he returned from Mexico a day after it was confirmed he had left the country.

More: 5 board members of Texas utility grid operator ERCOT quit. They all live out of state.

Staff reporter Joey Garrison contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: John Cornyn wants to join Joe Biden on post-storm Texas trip