On Thursday, the Texas House of Representatives reached a quorum, finally permitting the House to consider a vote on GOP voting reform bills which had been held up after Texas Democrats fled the state and traveled to Washington, D.C., in mid-July.
The Texas Tribune reported:
The margin was razor thin on Thursday and it was unclear for hours before gaveling in whether Republicans had gotten enough members in the chamber to begin their work. Ultimately, 99 members voted that they were present with 49 stated absences. (The regular 100-member threshold for a quorum dropped to 99 on Thursday after San Antonio Democrat Leo Pacheco’s resignation went into effect.) The House then adjourned until 4 p.m. on Monday after referring a slew of bills to committee.
GOP House Speaker Dade Phelan stated, “It’s time to get back to the business of the people of Texas. I appreciate every one of you. I’m looking forward to working with you over the coming week or two.”
Some Democrats were angry that some of their colleagues had returned to the chamber. Rep. Michelle Beckley, noting that Democrats Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez, and Armando Walle had returned, tweeted, “This is how Texas Democrats lose elections.”
— Michelle Beckley (@BeckleyforTX) August 19, 2021
The three aforementioned returning Democrats issued a statement saying, “We are proud of the heroic work and commitment we and our fellow Democratic caucus members have shown in breaking quorum in May and again over this summer. We took the fight for voting rights to Washington, D.C. and brought national attention to the partisan push in our state to weaken ballot access. Our efforts were successful and served as the primary catalyst to push Congress to take action on federal voter protection legislation. Now, we continue the fight on the House Floor.”
— Ana Hernandez (@AnaHdzTx) August 19, 2021
The Daily Wire noted when the Texas Democrats fled:
More than 50 Democrats fled the state on private planes so there would not be enough legislators present for a variety of bills to be passed, including voter integrity laws, bills that would protect girls from having to compete against biological males in sports, fund arrests of illegal aliens, clampdown on abortion, and crackdown on racist Critical Race Theory being taught in schools.
Many online noted that the Texas Democrats brought cheap beer with them as they fled the state, eventually boarding private jets to Washington, D.C., while not wearing masks.
Last week, Texas law enforcement was deputized and sent to track down the absent Democratic lawmakers, as The Daily Wire reported:
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said that the process of arresting the rogue lawmakers “will begin in earnest immediately,” according to the Texas Tribune. Phelan signed arrest warrants for 52 missing lawmakers on Tuesday, but the possibility of arresting the absent Democrats has been in limbo as many of the lawmakers have sought protection by the courts.
The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday overruled a lower court order blocking the arrest of 45 Democratic lawmakers, clearing the way for Phelan to direct law enforcement to bring the lawmakers into the Capitol by force. The state Supreme Court gave the Democrats a Monday morning deadline for a response.