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Sen. Ted Cruz on Hurricane Harvey: Focus is search and rescue, not 'political sniping'

  • Texas is facing "historic" devastation from Hurricane Harvey, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told CNBC on Monday.
  • Responding to criticism about not voting for Sandy aid, Cruz explained why he didn't support the bill.
  • Right now the focus is helping people, not political sniping, he added.

With Texas facing "historic" devastation from Hurricane Harvey, the focus right now is on search and rescue, not politics, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told CNBC on Monday.

On Saturday, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he'd support financial aid for Harvey even though Cruz voted against aid after Superstorm Sandy.

"I'm not going to worry about political sniping. My focus here is on the tragedy that is unfolding, on the people whose lives are in jeopardy and the people who need help," Cruz said in an interview that aired on "Fast Money Halftime Report."

Harvey was the most powerful hurricane to strike Texas in more than 50 years when it came ashore on Friday near Corpus Christi. Now Houston is facing worsening flooding as Harvey, now a tropical storm, continues to dump more rain on the city in the coming days.

Cruz said hurricane funding is an important federal responsibility but there were issues with the Sandy aid.

"I would have eagerly supported funding for that but I didn't think it was appropriate to engage in pork-barrel spending where two-thirds of that bill was unrelated spending that had nothing to do with Sandy and was simply politicians wasting money," he said.

As for Harvey and expected cost estimates, Cruz said it was too soon to tell. However, he said the devastation "exceeds anything we've ever seen before."

"The damage is going to be very extensive," he said. "We don't have a specific cost estimate and part of the reason is the focus right now quite rightly is on saving lives. There are still people in very real jeopardy."

— Reuters contributed to this report.

Correction: This story has been amended to reflect Sen. Ted Cruz's title.