Updated at 7:51 p.m. ET
The Texas Democratic Party is calling on Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to resign or be expelled from office after the Republican lawmaker flew to Cancún, Mexico, for a family vacation in the middle of a deadly winter storm that has left millions of Texans without water and electricity.
Cruz has returned to Texas, calling the trip "a mistake."
In a statement issued Thursday, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa called the senator's trip to Cancún "deeply disturbing and disappointing."
He further described Cruz as "an enemy to our democracy" for challenging the certification of the Electoral College vote before and after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and as "an enemy to our state" for "jetting off to Mexico while Texans remain dying in the cold."
"The Texas Democratic Party calls on Ted Cruz to resign or be expelled from office," Hinojosa said. "Barring that, we will put all of the resources we have into defeating him and every Texas Republican who abandoned us in this disaster, including Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick, in 2022 and 2024."
The party said this is the 21st time it has called for Cruz's resignation.
Cruz also issued a statement on Thursday confirming earlier speculation about his travel. He explained that his daughters had asked to go on a trip with friends.
"Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon," the senator said.
Then, after he returned on Thursday afternoon, Cruz told reporters the trip was "a mistake, and in hindsight, I wouldn't have done it."
He said his daughters had been "cold for two days ... and they're saying, 'We don't have school. ... Let's get out of here.' " He said a lot of parents would do the same for their children, but he started to second-guess his decision "from the moment I sat on the plane."
Cruz said he knew he had responsibilities and had intended to work remotely by phone and online. "But I needed to be here, and that's why I came back," he said.
Images of Cruz and his wife, Heidi, boarding a flight at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston first appeared on Twitter late Wednesday night.
NPR has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of those images.
One of the images was posted by former MSNBC anchor David Shuster, who criticized the senator's decision to take his family on a vacation while many of his constituents have to deal with the fallout of the winter storm.
"Cruz seems to believe there isn't much for him to do in Texas for the millions of fellow Texans who remain without electricity/water and are literally freezing," Shuster wrote in a tweet.
Shuster's tweet went viral, garnering nearly 50,000 retweets and more than 70,000 likes as of 1 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat who lost to Cruz in the 2018 Texas race for U.S. Senate, called out his former opponent during an appearance on MSNBC Thursday for "vacationing in Cancún right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent."
After days of snow, ice and record low temperatures, nearly 500,000 homes remained without power in Texas as of early Thursday, according to tracking site PowerOutage.US.