It is the first time the Texas House has reached the quorum since Democrats fled the state 38 days ago, which held legislative business in the House and caused Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan to sign the civil arrest warrants for the 52 House Democrats who had fled the state in an effort to force their return.
Democratic representatives Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle issued a statement Thursday explaining their return to the apartment on Thursday, saying they were “proud of the heroic work” achieved by breaking the quorum, but “Now, we continue the fight on the floor of the House. “The statement notes the need to manage the rise of Covid-19 in the state as behind the decision.
Coleman, who previously broke the quorum but did not join others in DC due to a recent amputation of his leg, made the invocation on Thursday, saying in part, “I pray that we, all together, look within. where we want this world to go, this is to declare this House and look at it from the perspective of trying to find as many common points as can be found. “
At least two members publicly accused their three colleagues of blinding them with the decision to return, and Rep. Donna Howard responded to the statement on Twitter: “This could have been previously shared with members of the Caucus.”
Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos went further, tweeting that “we are literally on calls for two hours this morning and none of the defecting Democrats mentioned that they planned to help Republicans pass voter suppression laws. Guess what the others have. Desert Democrats got back: NOTHING! “
Texas House Democratic Caucus President Chris Turner said Democrats’ efforts had helped raise national awareness of voting rights and vowed to continue fighting the Republican-led bill.
“Through bold action and breaking the quorum, the House Democrats achieved great victories for Texans and voters across the country. Through our determination and unity, we derailed the entire first special session of Governor Abbott, preventing passing laws against voters and other nonsensical, partisan legislation, “Turner said in a statement. “Through our continued efforts, we have already burned a third of Abbott’s second special session, which is nothing more than a mainstay for his re-election campaign.”
Texas House Democrats successfully killed the election review bills during the regular session when they came out in the final hours and at the first special session when they left the state last month. Members fled to Washington, DC, then in part to avoid arrest, as Texas law enforcement has no jurisdiction outside the state to execute a civil order. They spent weeks trying to pressure lawmakers in Congress to pass federal protections on voting rights. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had promised to convene “special session after special session” until Democrats return and complete the agenda.
SB1 includes extensive new protection and access for observers in favor of polls, restrictions on email voting, a total voting ban, restrictions on the early voting period, video surveillance and attendance restrictions. While the bill adds an additional hour needed for early voting day, it sets a specific time period in which to vote: ban extended hours and 24-hour voting, a measure used during the pandemic. in Harris County which local officials declared was especially popular among black voters. SB1 also restricts local election officials, for example, by adding criminal sanctions for submitting unsolicited voting application forms. Some democratic amendments, such as a process of curing postal voting errors, were accepted in the final version of the bill.