Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had amassed $4.7 million in her fundraising efforts to help Texans hard hit by last week’s winter storm as of Sunday evening, her press secretary Ivet Contreras confirmed to CNN.
The New York Democrat launched her fundraiser Thursday after extreme cold weather, ice and snow caused the power grid managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to fail — leading to rolling blackouts and a boil-water advisory for nearly half of Texas. The fundraiser had hit $1 million by Thursday evening. The next day, Ocasio-Cortez said that donation figures had risen to $2 million, and she announced she would visit the state.
The congresswoman’s efforts come as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a political adversary, faces backlash — including from members of his own party — for flying to Cancun, Mexico, last week as many of his constituents were left without power or water. To raise money, Ocasio-Cortez is using Act Blue, a Democratic fundraising tool, that helps her build an email listserv as she receives donations.
On Friday, the congresswoman said she would fly to Houston to join Democratic Texas Rep. Sylvia Garcia to distribute supplies. While in Texas, the progressive lawmaker and other Democrats visited food distribution centers, water delivery sites and toured the damage left behind from an unprecedented storm.
Ocasio-Cortez, alongside Garcia and Texas Rep. Al Green, said Saturday that she wanted to work to get assistance to Texans after volunteering at the Houston Food Bank and touring the home of a family who was affected by the winter storm.
“It’s one thing to read about what’s going on but it’s another thing entirely to see the damage for ourselves,” she said. “The message in Washington is let’s not let people get caught up in a bunch of red tape. Let’s try to get this assistance out the door as much as people need and as quickly as we can.”
When asked by CNN if Ocasio-Cortez had ever raised money or visited a disaster site before, the New York congresswoman said this was her first event outside of an effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and some relief work before she had been elected.
“Our first major relief effort was last year when Covid hit and so we were able to build a disaster relief and fundraising operation and we cut our teeth on that with Covid but that was in our home district, and so before that, we had mobilized for Hurricane Maria relief but that was before I was elected as a member of Congress,” she said. “I think this is just something that we should be able to do whenever there is an area in our country that’s in need.”
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas over the weekend, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide more resources and assistance to the Lone Star State.