While the power in Texas is mostly restored, millions of Texans are facing water boil advisories, untold property damage, food insecurity, and other major concerns. As the state begins a daunting cleanup process, Democrats are also demanding answers.
At a virtual press conference convened by the Texas Democrats, members of the congressional delegation and other leaders spoke out forcefully against Governor Greg Abbott and the state’s Republican leadership.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, who lost power during the storm, tore into Abbott’s priorities. On Monday night, the Governor was on Fox News complaining about wind turbines, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who raised a significant amount of money for relief efforts), and the Green New Deal.
“Every time there is a major disaster, Greg Abbott goes into hiding,” said Castro. The San Antonio representative also noted that in the past Abbott has bragged about sending the National Guard to the border. But this week, Abbott hasn’t shown the same effort to mobilize after this disaster.
As Governor, Abbott has been responsible for appointing all the members of the state’s Public Utilities Commission, which oversees the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). After the state’s democratic members wrote to the Public Utilities Commission, they got back a letter that Castro said was “one of the most arrogant responses” he has ever seen.
Rep. Marc Veasey echoed many of his colleague’s points about Republican leadership. Veasey also pointed out that there were warnings in 2011 after rolling blackouts occurred, and that ERCOT needed to better prepare for winter storms. Veasey now says we are seeing the consequences of that inaction. He too criticized Abbott for trying to deflect blame on new energy. “Everybody knows we don’t have the Green New Deal in Texas,” said Veasey.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee spoke about heartbreaking conversations she had with constituents frantically trying to reach older relatives. She also recounted stories about medical professionals finding bodies frozen in homes. “I think we have to look at this as a twenty-year failure,” she said. Lee also shared that no member of the democratic delegation has gotten a phone call from Gov. Abbott regarding the disaster.
Julián Castro, the former Mayor of San Antonio and HUD Secretary, also called out the Republican leadership of the state. “Because of their incompetence, because of their cronyism we’re at a point where millions of Texans have been inconvenienced and in some cases have died,” said Castro.
Anna and Michael Mendez, residents in Austin, also participated in the news conference. They described sitting in their home in the dark with their ten-year-old son as temperatures plunged into the single digits. They live near a greenbelt, so they were able to use wood for a fire. “We felt abandoned,” said Anna Mendez. “We literally felt like our state leaders left us out in the cold.”
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