Three fully vaccinated members of the group of Texas Democrats who fled the state have contracted the coronavirus, the Texas House Democratic Caucus announced Saturday.
One member tested positive Friday night, followed by two more Saturday morning, the Democrats announced in a statement. The three members were among the group that smiled without masks as they traveled to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to block a Texas voting bill that they argue would suppress votes.
THDC Chairman Chris Turner called the positive tests “a sober reminder that COVID is still with us,” adding that “we must still take necessary precautions” despite the vaccines’ “tremendous protection.”
“The House Democratic Caucus is following all [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance and protocols. … We are in touch with public health experts in Texas to provide additional guidance. Our caucus will follow all recommendations from public health experts as we continue our work,” he added.
The THDC did not reveal the names of the affected members, saying it will “respect the privacy of Members and their personal health.”
— Wes Rapaport (@wesrap) July 17, 2021
Symone Sanders, a representative for Vice President Kamala Harris, confirmed that the vice president met with two of the members but said she was deemed not to be at high risk of contracting the disease.
“Based on the timeline of these positive tests, it was determined the Vice President and her staff present at the meeting were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive and therefore do not need to be tested or quarantined,” Sanders said in a statement.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan said he extends his “prayers for safety and health for the members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus who tested positive for COVID-19 while in Washington, D.C.,” adding that he contacted experts for “any additional guidance on protocols for those exposed to COVID-19 post-vaccination.”
The highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 has led to some cases of the disease among those who are fully vaccinated. All 50 states and Washington, D.C., are experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases that experts believe is fueled by the high transmissibility of the delta variant, which now makes up a majority of new cases in the United States, according to the New York Times.
On Monday, at least 51 Democratic lawmakers boarded chartered planes to Washington, D.C., none of whom appeared to be wearing masks, despite current federal guidance mandating the use of facial coverings on commercial flights.
The lawmakers headed to Washington to stonewall the passage of the state’s Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3, a pair of bills that would ban drive-thru voting, implement more comprehensive voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots, and prohibit officials from sending voting applications to those who did not request them. They also lobbied Congress in support of For the People Act, a sweeping election overhaul supported by congressional Democrats, as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
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.
Republicans in the Lone Star State have vowed to hold Democrats accountable for fleeing the state. Gov. Greg Abbott, who called a special session expiring on Aug. 7 to pass the voting legislation, said that the lawmakers “will be arrested and brought to the Texas Capitol” upon their return to Texas, a stance affirmed by Republicans in the Texas House, who voted on Tuesday to send law enforcement to hunt down the nearly 60 Democratic legislators who fled the state.
Democrats have praised the lawmakers’ efforts to starve Republicans of the quorum needed to vote on the bills, with President Joe Biden applauding the group’s “courage.”
The tactic of fleeing a state to deny congressional bodies of quorums has been employed by state lawmakers in Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Oregon. Few of these walkouts achieved the desired results.
Author : Carly Roman
Source : Washington Examiner : Three Texas Democrats who fled state contract COVID-19