Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott likely anticipated fierce Democratic opposition when he launched a special session tasked with addressing a number of items, chief among them an election reform bill derided by some critics as discriminatory.
Some Texas Democrats, however, took their criticism further than expected by fleeing the state in an effort to deny GOP lawmakers the quorum needed to advance the legislation.
“We will stay out”
At the end of the most recent regular session, Democratic state lawmakers staged a walkout in opposition to the same voter integrity measures.
The group of Democrats who boarded chartered planes destined for the nation’s capital included Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner.
“We are determined to kill this bill in this special session that will end on August 7,” he said in a subsequent press conference. “We will stay out until then in order to do that.”
Of course, the stunt also means all other state measures are also being blocked in the process, as Abbott pointed out in his statement on the matter.
“Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the Texas Legislature and abandon the Texas State Capitol inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve,” the governor argued. “As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state.”
“Put aside partisan political games”
Abbott went on to urge Democrats to “put aside partisan political games and get back to the job they were elected to do.”
To ignore their legislative duties, he concluded, is to deprive Texans of “important resources simply because their elected representative refused to show up for work.”
Meanwhile, Texas Republican lawmakers are considering possible ways to advance legislation without the two-thirds quorum needed for normal procedures of the special session to resume.”
Abbott signaled his support for what is known as a call of the House, which would force all state legislators to show up or face arrest and, once a quorum is present, lock the doors and not allow anyone to leave until all business had been completed.
In any case, the governor insisted that Democrats would not be able to run out the clock, noting: “I can and will continue to call a special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year.”