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No Penalties Enacted on Texas Democrats Who Fled

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Despite calls from conservatives, the Republican Party of Texas, and even Gov. Greg Abbott, the Legislature has adjourned without approving or even considering punishments for the Democrat House members who left Austin and froze progress on priority legislation for the past two months. 

For 37 days, House Democrats were able to deny the Texas House the quorum needed to conduct business, eventually returning in mid-August.

Last week, the State Republican Executive Committee—the governing body of the Republican Party of Texas—unanimously passed a resolution calling for all of the quorum-busting Democrats to be removed from leadership positions in the chamber.

“I want to be clear: I have never seen an issue that so firmly unites Republicans across the political spectrum as this one does,” Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi said during a press conference last week, pointing to calls for fleeing Democrats to be removed from leadership by Gov. Greg Abbott, his Republican primary challengers, Texas Young Republicans, and College Republicans.  

During the session, State Rep. Cody Vasut (R–Angleton) filed House Resolution 72, which would have ensured that penalties could be applied to those derelict members—including stripping chairmanships, fining the members, and taking away their seniority privileges such as preferred offices and parking spots.

But despite the bill being referred to the House Administration Committee chaired by State Rep. Will Metcalf (R–Conroe), it never received a hearing. 

With the Legislature having ended the second special session last week, nothing has changed for those House Democrats—many of whom serve as committee chairs.

House members will likely have one more opportunity this year to act on the issue, as a third special session focused on legislative redistricting is anticipated to take place sometime in the coming weeks. 

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