The Texas House voted Tuesday morning to send the sergeant-at-arms to round up Democrat legislators absent from the governor’s special session.
On Monday, dozens of House Democrats left Texas for Washington D.C. to break the quorum at the Capitol and effectively stop all votes in the House. Primarily, Democrats said they’re working to stop a vote on election legislation they said is actually voter suppression.
With only 80 of 150 House members present Tuesday, the House lacks the necessary 2/3 of legislators to do business. A “Call of the House” motion was called that compels all members of the House to appear in the chamber. Those who do not appear are subject to arrest.
The “Call of the House” was approved 76-4, with four Democrats in the House chamber voting nay. Following the vote, the doors to the House chamber were locked preventing anyone else from coming or going.
State Troopers from the Texas Department of Safety may now be appointed to go look for the missing legislators at their respective businesses and homes, but they’ll be unlikely to find any of them since they left the state the day before.
Texas law enforcement is unlikely to track the lawmakers to D.C. since they lack jurisdiction in the nation’s capital.
During an interview on FOX News Monday night Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said once the Democrats who “fled” the state return to Texas they will be arrested and brought back to the Capitol.
“They’re quitters. That is not the way we do things,” Abbott said in the television interview.
If the House Democrats stay out of the state through the end of the special session, the governor, who can call as many special sessions as he likes, said he’ll simply call another one.
“I will continue calling special session after special session because overtime is going to continue until they step up to vote,” Abbott said.
Defending the voter bill, Abbott said the premise the Democrats are operating under is false and that the Texas bill doesn’t hinder anyone’s ability to vote and adds additional hours to vote. Abbott said during the television interview the hours for voting will be expanded during early voting and on election day.
Democrats say the Republican bill includes outlawing 24-hour polling places, banning ballot drop boxes and empowering partisan poll watchers.
On the Senate side Tuesday, a quorum of 22 members was present and expected to be debating their version of the voting bill.