Aug 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Dozens of Texas House Dems challenge legitimacy of re-established quorum

Photo of a camera capturing Senfronia Thompson speaking from a podium with the Texas flag and other Texas state representatives behind her

Texas state Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D) with fellow Texas state representatives at a press conference on voting rights in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kevin Dietsch via Getty Images

More than 30 Texas House Democrats on Friday tore into a handful of their fellow Democrats, who returned to the capital this week, and accused Republicans of lying about the number of legislators present to re-establish quorum.

Why it matters: More than 50 House Democrats fled the state in July to prevent the GOP from passing new voting restrictions and urge federal action on voting rights. The 38-day standoff ended on Thursday after a small minority returned to the capital to continue the fight "from the inside."

  • Those who returned argued that their lobbying efforts with Congress were successful and that they needed to be in Texas to help stem the rise in COVID cases.

What they're saying: "We are disappointed that a few Democrats chose to return to the floor," the 30 Democrats said in a joint statement on Friday. "We feel betrayed and heartbroken, but our resolve is strong and this fight is not over."

  • "Heroes leading our school districts have defied Greg Abbott’s order and set local policy to protect millions of children and their families from COVID, but those brave efforts are now at risk if the Republican legislative majority has its way."

They also challenged the quorum's legitimacy, which they claim will now enable Republicans to "enact virtually all of Abbott's directives."

  • Several lawmakers who were marked as present were not actually in the state Capitol building on Thursday, though they had been in the chamber earlier this session, the Texas Tribune reports.
  • "Republicans will lie about the number of legislators present at the Capitol to establish quorum, keep Texans in the dark, and bend the rules to get their way," the Democrats said.
  • "We are proud to have fought for our constituents, everyday Texans, using every tool at our disposal, and will continue to do so wherever we may be."

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

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