Texas Democrats Flee State
Texas Governor Says Democratic Lawmakers To Be Arrested
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) promised that Democratic lawmakers who fled the state Monday to prevent a vote on an election reform bill will be arrested upon their return to the Lone Star State, according to the Hill. The Democratic legislators to whom he referred, boarded private planes which landed in Washington D.C. They cannot be arrested while outside the boundaries of the state of Texas.
Texas House Democrats Try To Stop Election Reform Bill
A majority of Texas House Democrats boarded a charter flight which took them to Washington D.C. in an attempt to thwart passage of the bill Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are backing. The Texas Legislature is in special session to consider several bills proposed by the governor.
Abbott Vows To Hold Lawmakers Inside State Capitol
Abbott appeared determined to follow through on his promise, saying he would hold them inside the Texas State Capitol once arrested "until they get the job done."
The Texas governor further told Austin television station KVUE that, "If these people want to be hanging out wherever they are 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 Texsas Capitol until they get their job done."
Texas Legislature Normally Meets Once Every Two Years
The Texas Legislature is unique in that it normally only meets once every two years. That tends to slow down the passage of bills in usual circumstances. However, the governor does have the power to call special sessions if he wants to speed up the process.
Abbott Vows To Call Special Sessions
The governor further said Monday that he "can and will continue to call a special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year."
Democratic Lawmakers Respond
Texas Democrats responded to the criticism. Texas Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said he and other Democrats have the "resolve" to wait out the special session.
He said on MSNBC, "There is nothing special about this session in Austin. It is a suppression session. They are trying to take away our right to vote and we're going to fight."
Second Time Democrats Acted To Stop Vote On Bill
It's the second time House Democrats acted to deprive the House a quorum and thus preventing a vote on Abbott's election reform bill. They earlier walked out of chambers in the final hours on May 30 of the regular session before an expected vote on the election legislation.
History Of Walkouts
While absent lawmakers can face arrest and be compelled to attend the legislature, there is a history off walkouts in the the Alamo State. In 2003, Democrats in the legislature fled the state for Oklahoma and successfully prevented the passage of a redistricting plan.
Lawmakers Will Have To Stay Gone For Weeks
While the tactic has been successful in the past, Democratic lawmakers may have to remain outside Texas for weeks this time if they are to prevail. Abbott's promise to continue calling special sessions would seem to be an effective counter strategy.
Texas Democratic Party Issues Statement
The Texas Democratic Party issued a statement on Monday, saying: "After Democrats historically blocked Republicans' anti-voter efforts in the spring legislative session, Abbott called an irregular extra legislative session in order to resurrect the anti-voter legislation--Republicans main hope of holding onto power in the 2022 election.
"In response to Republicans' escalation of their attacks on voters, Democrats continue to hold the line."
Two-Thirds of Legislators Must Be Present
Under Texas law, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed. The en masse walkout by Democrats thwarted, at least temporarily, the passage of several bills.
Why Did Abbott Convene The Special Session?
Abbott convened the special session earlier this month to pass a litany of legislation involving voting reform, abortion access, transgender rights and critical race theory. Since the Legislature is dominated in Texas by the GOP, the bills will likely someday be taken up if Abbott continues to call special sessions.
The Democratic Exodus
House Democrats boarded two planes out of Austin headed for the U.S. capital without a return date as part of their exodus. At least 51 of 67 Democratic representatives, which is the number needed to break the quorum, left Monday afternoon. They boarded a chartered flight from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport that departed around 3:10 p.m.
The House is set to reconvene today (Tuesday), but the absent Democrats would mean there will not be enough members present to conduct business under House rules.
Texas Democrats Walk Out
Governor Greg Abbott Speaks Out On Democratic Walkout
Kyler J Falk from California on July 13, 2021:
This honestly feels like a backwards way of approaching someone who refuses to their job, and even goes as far as fleeing their job. Perhaps it is my privilege speaking, but if someone refuses to do their job they should be fired/removed/labelled incompetent and unable to perform the job and replaced permanently. This whole "arrest" thing that government does is really more of a way to protect one another's positions of power, rather than actually solving the issue of those refusing to do their job.