(USA Features) GOP Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan issued arrest warrants for 52 state Democratic lawmakers who broke quorum for a third time to stop the legislature from passing voter integrity legislation.
Phelan moved forward with the warrants after the Texas House voted 80-12 to have the errant Democratic members arrested. It was the second time that a similar vote was taken during the Democrats’ ongoing efforts to deny majority Republicans a quorum.
Also Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower state court’s ruling that barred the legislature from issuing arrest warrants for the absent Democrats.
“Democrats were hoping that their flit would deny the statehouse the minimum number of lawmakers required to conduct official business — by fleeing the state to stop Republicans’ agenda to potentially ban drive-thru and 24-hour voting, among other sweeping restrictions,” the Daily Mail reported.
The warrants will be sent to the House Sergeant-At-Arms “for service” Wednesday morning reports noted.
They were signed out by Phelan after Democrats refused to report for legislative duty on the fifth day of the House’s special session, which left the chamber short eight members for a quorum.
“While Texas representatives would not face jail time if arrested, they may be brought to the state’s Capitol by law enforcement once the House Sergeant-at-Arms puts the warrants in motion to be served,” the Daily Mail added.
In all, 57 of the House chamber’s 67 Democrats fled to Washington, D.C., last month so as to deny a legislative quorum. It’s not clear how many of them have returned to Texas.
While in D.C. early on, the group of Dems met with Vice President Kamala Harris in what was seen as the White House lending symbolic support for their efforts. Some of the fleeing Democrats wound up catching COVID0-19, which led the White House to closely monitor the vaccinated vice president for signs and symptoms of illness.
Some Democrats sounded defiant regarding the arrest warrants, including Rep. Celia Israel, who serves the 50th district of Texas, who returned to her home district on the outskirts of the capital of Austin.
“I think they’re bluffing. Do they really want to arrest a woman of color?” she said, the Daily Mail reported. “They’re just thumping their chests.”
When asked if she planned to show up to the Capitol on Wednesday before the warrants were actually issued, she responded, “hell no.” She added that Texas House Democrats have a legal team working on their behalf “punching and counter-punching happening by the hour.”
Israel went on to note that while Texas lawmakers have denied quorums in the past, it has never gone on so long.
“We’ve never been down this road before,” she said.
“I just question whether [the Texas Department of Public Safety] or anyone can break down my door to come and put me in shackles and drag me there,” added Democratic state Rep. Vikki Goodwin. “I feel certain that I can stay in my home, and stay off the House floor.”
State Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement Tuesday it’s “fully within our rights as legislators to break quorum to protect our constituents.”