The Texas House of Representatives voted to allow for the arrest of Texas House Democrats who have fled to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to stop election legislation.
Most Democrats were missing from rows of desks that fill the House chamber, along with the keys needed to cast votes as lawmakers gaveled in at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. With the absences apparent and confirmed by a quorum, the lawmakers took a procedural vote called a “Motion for Call of the House.” The move is to “secure and maintain a quorum.”
The motion passed on a 76-4 vote, with four Democrats who were present voting against it. The lawmakers then voted to allow for the lawmakers’ arrests if needed.
“Members, the Sergeant of Arms and any officers appointed by him are directed to send for all absentees whose attendance is not excused for the purpose of securing and maintaining their attendance under warrant of arrest if necessary,” House Speaker Dade Phelan said.
Phelan said any members who want to leave the chambers must get written permission from the speaker.
The four House Democrats present Tuesday were Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville, Rep. Eddie Morales, D-Eagle Pass, and Rep. John Turner, D-Dallas.
Texas House Democrats landed in Washington Monday night after leaving the state to break quorum in an effort to derail an election law that they say would suppress the votes of Texans if passed. It’s the second time they’ve used the tactic this year after walking off the House floor in May to block Senate Bill 7, the regular session’s version of the voting legislation.
Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday on Austin television station KVUE that in addition to the speaker’s call to have the members arrested, he as governor will “continue to call special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year.”
“So if these people want to be hanging out wherever they’re 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,” he said. “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.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.