Austin, TX – Texas Speaker of the House Dad Phelan has issued civil arrest warrants for the 52 House Democrats who are still refusing to come to work during the second special session of the year.
Phelan’s spokesperson, Enrique Marquez, confirmed the move and said the arrest warrants will be delivered to the House Sergeant-at-Arms Wednesday morning to be served on the defiant lawmakers in an effort to reestablish the quorum needed for lawmakers to resume their duties, The Texas Tribune reported.
House Democrats have been avoiding the House chamber in a thus-far successful effort to deny the quorum needed to pass bills in the Republican-led legislature.
The Texas House voted 80-12 on Tuesday to authorize law enforcement to track down the absent lawmakers, The Texas Tribune reported.
The warrants authorize the arrests of the 52 House Democrats, who must be taken directly to the state Capitol.
They will not face criminal charges or fines under the current action, The Texas Tribune reported.
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
The first 30-day special session ended Aug. 6.
House Democrats managed to deny a quorum during the first session, during which more than 50 of them boarded private planes and headed to Washington, DC, the Associated Press reported at the time.
Their hiatus broke the quorum, blocking the GOP majority’s ability to pass a slew of new voting restrictions, among other bills.
At least two dozen Texas House Democrats are still hiding out in Washington, DC, according to The Dallas Morning News.
— TMF (@TMFtx) July 12, 2021
At least six of the lawmakers who fled the state have since tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Texas Tribune.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered a second special session to begin Aug. 7.
Lawmakers waited for the House Democrats for two hours on Monday before ending the day’s session, The Texas Tribune 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
Phelan and Texas Governor Greg Abbott ended up turning to the Texas Supreme Court to ask for a state district judge’s temporary restraining order blocking them from authorizing the arrests to be overturned.
The Texas Supreme Court sided with the governor and House Speaker on Tuesday, The Texas Tribune reported.
Another day, another Democrat defeat accomplished. Congratulations, @GregAbbott_TX @DadePhelan now let’s immediately bring the #Democrats back so the business of Texas may continue! #TexasDeservesBetter #Texas #Democrats https://t.co/ZYjFrZ1xjq
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) August 10, 2021
“I just question whether DPS or anyone can break down my door to come and put me in shackles and drag me there,” Representative Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) told The Dallas Morning News. “I feel certain that I can stay in my home, and stay off the House floor.”
A quorum of two-thirds of the 150 members is needed to proceed with voting, so it would not take many arrests for the legislative processes to resume, The Dallas Morning News reported.
A total of 96 House members were marked as present since Monday, which is just four members shy of the quorum, according to the paper.
Arresting members to come to the house floor.
Have we got to the point where we believe our own bull shizz so much that we arrest our own colleagues.
Civil discourse took a nasty turn today. pic.twitter.com/a7ooP7FDwG
— Lyle Larson (@RepLyleLarson) August 10, 2021
“I don’t believe that there are enough Democrats to make quorum yet, but they’re still eagerly trying to twist arms and put pressure on my colleagues,” Representative Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) told The Texas Tribune. “That is happening daily. That’s been happening since we left. But we have been resolved, and we’ve been strong and united in our efforts to solidify and not break ranks.”
The Texas House Democrats fled to the nation’s capital 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.
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.