Aug 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

38-day Texas House standoff ends after Democrats' return

Photo of people wearing masks with the American and Texas flag designs
Texas state Reps. Carl Sherman (center) and Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (right). Texas House Democrats lobbied for an end to the filibuster, passage of the For The People Act and restoration of the Voting Rights Act while in D.C. this month. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The contentious holdout that followed 50 Texas House Democrats' departure from the state came to an end on Thursday after 38 days, AP reports.

Why it matters: Democrats fled the state in July to protest GOP-led voting restrictions, flying to D.C. instead to urge federal action on voting rights. Enough returned on Thursday to resume quorum, days after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that they can be arrested if they don't attend the state Capitol.

State of play: Most have continued to avoid the state Capitol, but the few who returned to the Texas House justified the move by claiming their work with Congress was done.

  • They also noted the state's rapidly rising COVID case count and argued they could better fight the GOP's elections bill "from the inside," according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times.
    • "Now, we continue the fight on the House Floor," Democratic state Reps. Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle said in a joint statement on Thursday.
  • Other Texas Democrats criticized their actions. "[W]e were literally on caucus calls for 2 hours this morning and none of the defecting Democrats mentioned they were planning on helping the Republicans pass voter suppression bills," state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos tweeted.
    • "Guess what the other defecting Democrats have accomplished by going back—NOTHING!"

Worth noting: The federal voting rights protections they lobbied for in D.C. are unlikely to avoid GOP challenges in Congress.

What to watch: Republicans will aim to pass restrictive voting legislation before the current special session ends on Sept. 5. Critics say it will disproportionately impact voters of color.

  • More than 16 million people are registered to vote in Texas, per AP.
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