Austin, TX – A group of Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled the state on Monday to deny the quorum needed to pass bills in the Republican-led legislature will be arrested when they return to Texas, the governor has vowed.
Over 50 Texas lawmakers boarded private planes in Austin on Monday and headed to Sterling, Virginia, just days ahead of the Texas House of Representatives’ scheduled vote on a slew of new voting restrictions, the Associated Press reported.
By breaking the quorum, the democrats are blocking the GOP majority’s ability to pass any legislation.
“Minutes ago, at least 57 letters were delivered to the House general clerk directing the House to lock our voting machines and not unlock them until we provide expressed permission to do so upon our return to the Capitol,” Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner told WPVI.
Their move comes just one month after they prevented the passage of the same voting restrictions by walking out ahead of another vote, the Associated Press reported.
The measures would ban 24-hour and drive-thru polling places and would prohibit ballot drop boxes while empowering poll watchers, according to WPVI.
The group of lawmakers chose the nation’s capital as its rallying point in an effort to put more pressure on Congress and President Joe Biden to address voting at the federal level, the Associated Press reported.
ON THE PLANE with 50+ state legislators from @TexasHDC, @RepRamonRomero explains why Democrats are breaking quorum and flying to Washington, D.C. (@andoconmando39 and @NicoleCollier95) #txlege pic.twitter.com/L6ihWi1ilc
— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) July 12, 2021
“This is a now-or-never for our democracy. We are holding the line in Texas,” State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) told the Associated Press. “We’ve left our jobs, we’ve left our families, we’ve left our homes. Because there is nothing more important than voting rights in America.”
During an interview with KVUE on Monday night, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the voting bills are just part of the litany of measures the legislature is tasked with examining right now.
— TMF (@TMFtx) July 12, 2021
Abbott noted that the Texas House Speaker can call for the arrests of the lawmakers who are hiding out in Washington, DC.
“In addition to that, however, I can and I will continue to call a special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year,” he said. “And so, if these people want to be hanging out wherever they’re hanging out on this taxpayer-paid junket, they’re going to have to be prepared to do it for well over a year.”
“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” the governor vowed during his sit-down with KVUE. “Everybody who has a job must show up to do that job, just like your viewers on watching right now. State representatives have that same responsibility.”
When it comes to protecting our right to vote, all cards are on the table. We broke #quorum again today because the Gov & #txlege Repubs chose to bully Texans out of our constitutional rights instead of finding solutions to problems that really exist. #SuppressionSession #DemsOut https://t.co/muMdHLSy9F pic.twitter.com/9UbJnB8ehW
— Julie Johnson (@juliejohnsonTX) July 12, 2021
Abbott further argued that the voting laws the state is expected to pass actually extend the hours in which citizens will be able to vote in comparison to current rules.
“This law that we are seeking to pass adds more hours, not fewer hours for people to vote. We still have the same 12 days of early voting, but more hours during that early voting,” he told KVUE. “And get this: we have far more hours of early voting than in the state where President Biden votes in Delaware, where they have exactly zero hours of early voting. Anyone who suggests this deprives anybody the right to vote is just simply flat-out wrong. This provides more hours to vote than ever before allowed under law in the state of Texas.”
Turner said the Democratic lawmakers couldn’t care less about Abbott’s promise to call special sessions until next year’s elections, WPVI reported.
They simply intend to “stay out and kill this bill,” he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris praised the Texas Democrats for shirking their duties and fleeing the state they vowed to serve, saying their ploy takes “courage and commitment,” WPVI reported.