The nearly 60 Democratic lawmakers who fled Texas to stonewall a pair of Republican-backed voting bills “will be arrested” upon return to the state, Gov. Greg Abbott said on Monday.
Earlier in the day, at least 58 legislators in the state’s House of Representatives left Austin to paralyze the chamber until they return to the Texas Capitol. The majority of the lawmakers boarded private planes to Washington, D.C., to rendezvous with federal officials after their GOP colleagues pushed two bills that would ban certain ballot-casting processes and require more identification for voting.
“What the law is, it’s in the Constitution, and that is the House, the state House of Representatives, who were here in the Capitol, in Austin right now, they do have the ability to issue a call to have their fellow members who are not showing up to be arrested, but only so long as that arrest is made in the state of Texas,” Abbott said Monday. “That’s why they have fled the state.”
“Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas Capitol, and we will be conducting business,” he said on Fox News.
Under the Texas Constitution, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present to conduct business, and those who evade the task may be legally required to return.
The Democrats were seen posing maskless on a flight ahead of their departure. The Republican governor referred to their exodus as “un-Texan” and called them “quitters.”
ON PLANE TO DC: Texas Democratic lawmakers are leaving state to break quorum to stop Republican voting bill. Veteran Capitol observers say this is unchartered territory. Photo from Democrat on the plane. https://t.co/YOuOMb0A2m pic.twitter.com/abWoARvFIC
— ScottGordonNBC5 (@ScottGordonNBC5) July 12, 2021
“Isn’t that the most un-Texan thing you’ve ever heard, Texans running from a fight? They’re quitters,” Abbott said. “It’s like during a football game or a baseball game, taking their equipment when they’re way behind and just leaving the field. That is not the way that Texans do things.”
“By fleeing the state of Texas, they’re doing more than just appealing to the president,” he added. “They’re using taxpayer money on this political junket to Washington, D.C., to prevent us from passing laws that will make our communities better.”
At the direction of Abbott, a special session was called on Thursday, and GOP legislators introduced Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3, a pair of legislation that would ban drive-thru voting, implement more comprehensive voter identification requirements for mail-in ballots, and prohibit officials from sending voting applications to those who did not request them.
Similar bills were introduced in May, though Democrats staged an eleventh-hour walkout, and voting on the matter was halted. The Democratic lawmakers said on Monday that their most recent act of protest was done to resist “dangerous legislation” that would “trample” on voting rights in the state.
“Today, Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote,” the state House Democratic Caucus said in a joint statement.
“We are now taking the fight to our nation’s Capitol,” the group added. “We are living on borrowed time in Texas. We need Congress to act now to pass the ‘For the People Act’ and the ‘John Lewis Voting Rights Act’ to protect Texans — and all Americans — from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy.”
Abbott contested the allegations from his Democratic counterparts and said the bills don’t “hinder” the ability to vote.
“The thesis that they are operating under is completely false because what the Texas law does doesn’t hinder anybody’s ability to vote,” he said. “And in fact, interestingly, what Texas is seeking to do is to add additional hours to vote. Texas has 12 days of early voting, and the hours of which will be expanded, and we will ensure that hours are expanded on Election Day, also. So, their entire thesis is completely wrong.”
The House Democratic Caucus did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.
Author : Jake Dima