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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took his family on vacation to Cancun, Mexico, this week as his home state was paralyzed by a deadly winter storm, drawing criticism from leaders in both parties and potentially damaging his political ambitions. (Feb. 18) AP Domestic

WASHINGTON – Sen. Ted Cruz got comfortable in his seat behind a wooden dais Monday morning, ready to question Merrick Garland for what is expected to be a contentious confirmation hearing for attorney general. 

The Texas senator was fresh off a trip to Mexico that was cut short after he was fiercely criticized for leaving his state in the middle of a crisis. He wore the Texas flag face mask that he donned in the airport as he returned Thursday to his home state, where millions were still without power and water after a brutal winter storm. 

Questions about Cruz's trip have continued to circulate on social media after photographs showed him handing out bottled water to Texans over the weekend. Some questioned whether he should be quarantining after leaving the country. 

Related: United Airlines investigates Ted Cruz's flight information ‘leak'

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting tested for COVID-19 three to five days after traveling and staying home for seven days to quarantine, even if you test negative after a trip. It ranks Mexico as having a “very high” level of COVID-19, meaning travelers should avoid the country because of the risks posed by COVID-19 spread.

Jessica Skaggs, a spokeswoman for Cruz, said the senator tested negative both before his return flight to Texas on Thursday and again on Sunday, before he traveled to D.C. to return to work at the U.S. Capitol. 

While Cruz should be still quarantining under CDC guidelines because it hasn't been seven days since his return, essential workers like lawmakers are allowed to continue doing their duties if they are symptom-free. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have continued to travel back and forth to their home states and, when returning to D.C., have largely not been quarantining. 

Members of Congress were offered the COVID-19 vaccine late last year amid continuation of government efforts.

At that time, Cruz said he would not immediately take the vaccine in hopes of getting it first to seniors and others in need. He has since received his first dose of the vaccine, his spokeswoman said. A second dose is needed to be fully immunized. 

More than 60 lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic started ravaging the country about one year ago. A member of Congress, Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas, and member-elect, Luke Letlow, R-La., have died after contracting the disease. 

Video: Senator Ted Cruz flew to Mexico on vacation amid Texas' icy weather crisis

Cruz, after returning from his quick Mexico trip, said it was a “mistake” to go and said he was just trying to be a good husband and father to his two daughters, who were also weathering the freezing temperatures.

“In hindsight, I wouldn't have done it,” Cruz said Thursday night, adding it had been his “intention to work remotely,” but it became “more compelling” for him to return as controversy grew about the trip.

More: Fact check: Image claiming to show 2016 Ted Cruz tweet on climate change and Texas is fabricated

About 18,000 customers in Texas were still without power Monday, a number that's gone down significantly from the 4 million who were in the dark last week as freezing temperatures left some dead and forced many to huddle together for warmth. Problems with accessing clean drinking water have persisted after pipes burst in the frigid temperatures. 

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