Texas House Reaches Quorum as Democrats Return after 38 Days

Texas House Reaches Quorum as Democrats Return after 38 Days

Texas State Capitol in Austin. (CrackerClips/Getty Images)

The Texas House reached a quorum on Thursday for the first time in 38 days after 57 Democrats traveled to Washington, D.C., last month to boycott and delay GOP voting legislation.

The Democrats fled the state last month, hoping to hide out in the Capitol and fight for federal voting legislation until the Texas special legislative session expired.

Democrats had set a new record for the longest quorum break in state history by the time several Democratic lawmakers finally returned to the floor on Thursday evening and House speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, gaveled the session to order. 

The majority-Republican chamber then referred the voting bill to committee, inching the measure closer to passage.

As Republicans hold the majority in both chambers, Democrats do not have the votes to stop the bill from passing. Instead, they have been working to delay the vote since May, when Democrats walked out of a legislative session to deny a quorum for Republicans to advance the bill.

Democrats have opposed the legislation, accusing Republicans of trying to suppress votes. However, Republicans have repeatedly said the bill is meant to make it “easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

The bill aims to mandate that voters write their driver’s license or other identification number on absentee ballots, bans state officials from sending out unsolicited mail-in ballots, and bans 24-hour and drive-in voting.

While the legislation originally limited early voting on Sundays before elections, the provision was struck from the legislation after Democrats claimed the provision was intended to curtail “souls to the polls” voting drives for black churchgoers.

“Members, this has been a very long summer. We’ve been through a lot,” Phelan said before the House adjourned just seven minutes after reaching a quorum.

“I appreciate the members who made quorum today. It’s time we get back to work for the great state of Texas,” he said, adding that the House would adjourn until 4 p.m. Monday.

Last week, the Texas Senate voted to advance the major Republican voting bill on Thursday in an 18-11 vote, along party lines.

Senate Bill 1 passed after state senator Carol Alvarado finished a 15-hour talking filibuster in an attempt to delay the vote. Filibuster rules prohibited Alvarado from eating, sitting down, leaning on her desk, taking a bathroom break or speaking about subjects unrelated to the bill.

The all-night filibuster came one day after Phelan signed arrest warrants for 52 Democrats who did not return during the fourth day of the House’s second special session. At the time, the Democrats’ absence had left the chamber eight members short of a quorum.

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Originally Posted on: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/texas-house-reaches-quorum-as-democrats-return-after-38-days/
[By: Brittany Bernstein

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