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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Democrat House Lawmakers Planning to Leave Austin to Break Quorum

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Just a few days after the first called special legislative session in the Texas Capitol began, reports have started to surface that Democrat lawmakers are fleeing Austin in response to election integrity bills passing their respective committees over the weekend.

In the waning days of the 87th regular legislative session, House Democrats—enabled by House Republican leadership—“busted quorum” to prevent the final consideration of the conference committee report for the omnibus election integrity bill.

In order for the House to conduct business, a quorum of two-thirds of the chamber’s members (100 out of 150) is required to be present. Democrats currently hold 67 of the chamber’s seats.

House rules allow for a “call of the House” to arrest lawmakers who try to break quorum. However, the House is not scheduled to meet until Tuesday, when Democrats plan to have already left the state.

On the first day of the special session, State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) offered a resolution that would punish lawmakers who shirked their responsibilities by stripping them of committee chairmanships, committee memberships, and seniority privileges. Thus far, that resolution has not been considered by the overall House.

In May 2003, more than 50 House Democrats fled the state to Oklahoma in an attempt to block redistricting legislation making its way through the Texas House. After eventually passing the House, Senate Democrats fled to New Mexico. One Democrat state senator, John Whitmire (Houston), returned to establish a quorum, allowing the bill to eventually pass in October of that same year.

This story is developing.

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