The Texas House of Representatives voted Tuesday to arrest the State Democrats who skipped out on the legislature and flew to Washington, D.C. Monday.
The House Republicans voted 76-4 to send law enforcement to find and return absent Democrats “under warrant of arrest, if necessary”.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott threatened Democrats Monday with arrest once they come back home. That may not happen until the current special session ends in August. Gov. Abbott has vowed to keep trying until the 2022 elections if necessary.
“We think things have been delayed, not denied,” said state Rep. Jim Murphy, the House GOP caucus leader.
After House Republicans authorized sending out law enforcement, a sergeant-at-arms locked the chamber doors. Four Democrats who did not go to Washington were among the lawmakers still inside. The voting mechanisms on the desks of absent Democrats were locked. A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety did not say anything on what may happen next.
As that was happening, the group of Democrats met with members of Congress, asking them to quickly pass legislation protecting voting rights. The video above shows various State and U.S. Representatives discussing the matter, as well as part of a meeting the Democrats had with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“What’s happening in Texas by the GOP legislators and governor is just outrageous. These lawmakers are brave, they’re courageous. And they are simply fighting for the right of every Texan to have the right to vote,” Sen. Schumer said in the meeting. “These folks are going to be remembered on the right side of history. The governor and the Republican legislators will be remembered on the dark and wrong side of history.”
The Texas Democrats appeared to understand their effort to hold off GOP-back voting proposals could only last for so long. “We also know that we are living right now on borrowed time in Texas and we can’t stay here indefinitely to run out the clock to stop Republican anti-voter bills,” State Rep. Rhetta Bowers said. “That’s why we need Congress to act now and pass the For the People Act.”
Congress could also pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. That bill would restore sections of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court previously weakened.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader: “Folks, I want to say one quick thing, which is very simple. Shh, shh, shh. Guys I’m going to say something. OK look what’s happening in Texas by the GOP legislators and governor is just outrageous. These lawmakers are brave, they’re courageous. And they are simply fighting for the right of every Texan to have the right to vote. What could be more all-American than that? These folks are going to be remembered on the right side of history. The governor and the Republican legislators will be remembered on the dark and wrong side of history. Thank you.”
Rep. Marc Veasey, (D) Texas: “First of all, I want to thank all of our friends, the Democrats and the Texas legislature, for doing the right thing, coming to Washington, D.C., to really shine light on what’s a very glaring topic, a very important topic in our country. And that’s the eroding of voting rights. Since 1965, since the Voting Rights Act was passed in the mid 60s, we have not seen this level of retrogression in the right for people to cast their votes since that time period. And people need to do something about it. And this group is here today exactly doing that. They’re doing something about it. They’re standing up and they’re doing the right thing.”
State Rep. Chris Turner, (D) Texas, Chair of House Democrats: “Procedurally, how this works is there’s 150 members of the Texas House. It takes two thirds of the body present to constitute a quorum. So one hundred members and we vote in Texas and we register our attendance by use of voting machines on our desks. And minutes ago, at least fifty seven letters were delivered to the House Journal clerk directing the House to lock our voting machines and not unlock them until we provide express permission to do so upon our return to the Capitol.”
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, (D) Texas: “And we’re not doing this for Democrats, we’re doing this for Republicans, we’re doing this for independents, we’re doing this for North Texans and South Texans and East and West Texans. We’re doing this for Catholics and Protestants. Anybody in the state of Texas who needs to exercise the right to vote should do so freely. And we are not going to buckle to the big lie in the state of Texas, the big lie that has resulted, that has resulted in anti-Democratic legislation throughout the United States. We said no when the big lie came to the, to the Capitol in Texas and darkened our door, we said no during the regular session. And we are saying no during the regular session.”
State Rep. Rhetta Bowers, (D) Texas: “We are here in D.C., our nation’s capital, because we want to protect the civil right to vote for millions of Texans. We were quite literally forced to move and leave the state of Texas. We also know that we are living right now on borrowed time in Texas and we can’t stay here indefinitely to run out the clock to stop Republican anti-voter bills. That’s why we need Congress to act now and pass the For the People Act.”
State Rep. Toni Rose, (D) Texas: “I’m not up here to take a vacation in Washington, D.C.. When I look at the African-American museum, I thought about the struggle of my people fought in this country to get the right to vote. (Right.) And that right is sacred to my constituents that I represent back in Houston, Texas. And I’m up here because I don’t plan to be a sitting person in that legislature, I’m not going to be a sitting (duck.) I’m not ,I’m not, I’m not going to be a hostage.”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, (D) Texas: “What can change is right here in this building, and as Dean Thompson mentioned, what we really need today is a Lyndon Johnson moment. We need the power of the presidency, a great outline and an op ed in yesterday’s (Washington) Post about other things President Biden can do. We need the president and the vice president and every Democrat in this Senate working together to preserve American democracy. There is seldom been more at stake. That’s why they’re here. We need to see in the administration and in the Senate the same courage that these Texans have demonstrated.”