Texas Democrats once again proved how to get away from doing their jobs by literally going away. Reports said that a large group of Texas Legislature Democrats went to Dulles International Airport and left the state on board two charter jets.
Their plan? Go anywhere except stay home, in order to avoid a special session and avoid a Republican effort to enact new voter laws.
Fleeing The State Is Nothing New For Texas Democrats
Apart from the 51 Democrats who took the chartered flight, seven more State Representatives are en route to meet them. This is not the first time Democrats got out of Dodge to avoid a vote.
They also did something back in 2003 during a congressional redistricting vote. Instead of accepting a losing vote, 52 Democrats (known as the Killer Ds) left the state to avoid voting. They stayed outside the state until the time to get the bill approved expired.
Speaking to reporters at the airport Monday night, the Texas Democrats urged Congress to quickly pass federal legislation to protect voting rights. They also said they will remain in Washington, DC until August in the hopes of running out the clock on the proposed reform bill.
Texas Democrats Hoping For Passage of For The People Act
The Democrats are counting on the passage of the For the People Act. This is the latest amended version of the bill already filibustered by Senate Republicans last month. By letting the time expire on getting a quorum for a Texas Legislature vote, Democrats hope to prevent the GOP from getting the bill passed.
State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer said that “our democracy is on the line” if the votes push through. “It became very clear to us that this weekend that any attempts to negotiate some Democratic concessions were cut off, making it very clear that Republicans were hellbent on having it their way,” he said.
Democrats Risk Arrest
The runaway legislators risk arrest with their decision to flee Texas. The Texas Constitution requires the Legislature a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers present to conduct state business. The Department of Public Safety can legally track and compel the Texas Democrats to return to the Capitol.
Meanwhile, Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who championed the movement to tighten voting laws, called out the Democrats for dereliction of duty.
“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. As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state,” he said.
Clock Is Ticking
At the same time, Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan issued a statement on Monday. He wants to “use every available resource under the Texas Constitution and the unanimously-passed House Rules to secure a quorum,” Phelan said. “The special session clock is ticking,” he added.
However, the Texas Democrats’ brazen move to get out of Texas not only leaves their jobs behind. Many who fled left families and medical issues hanging. In order to beat the quorum deadline, they will need to remain out of state for the next three to five weeks.
The State constitution allows a special session to last until 30 days. Fischer said that “We are citizen lawmakers, we don’t get professional salaries.”
Watch the CBS Evening News reporting that Texas Democrats flee the state to block Republican voting bill:
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