Governor Greg Abbott criticized Democrat lawmakers who fled the state to prevent a vote on Republican election integrty bills as “un-Texan,” and said they would be arrested and returned to the capitol immediately upon returning to Texas.
Abbott issued the threat during an interview with Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham.
Over 50 Democrats left for Washington, D.C. on a pair of flights chartered by the Texas House Democratic Caucus at a price tag of $100,000, according to USA Today, wearing all smiles and traveling with a case of Miller Lites on the bus to the airport.
The move leaves the Texas House without a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers, thus preventing a vote.
The voting rights bills could be ‘permanently’ blocked should the Democrat lawmakers remain out of state for the remainder of the special legislative session.
Abbott, who described the Texas Democrats as “quitters,” indicated the lawmakers had fled the state because not doing so while breaking quorum would have led to their arrest.
“That’s why they fled the state,” he explained.
“Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas capitol and we will be conducting business,” vowed the Republican governor.
Some liberals have suggested Abbott wouldn’t have the authority to arrest the Democrats, but the Texas Tribune reports that there is a procedure known as ‘a call of the House’ to “compel the attendance of absent members.”
State Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Republican who chairs the powerful House Calendars Committee, has said he may support such a call.
“It’s a sad commentary that we may have to utilize a procedural rule to try and force most of the Democrats to show up to do the job they were elected to do,” Burrows told the Tribune.
In his appearance with Fox News, Abbott continued to rail against the Texas Democrats who chose to flee the state rather than conduct business on behalf of their constituents.
“Isn’t that the most un-Texan thing you have ever heard? Texans running from a fight?” he asked.
“They are quitters,” added Abbott. “It’s like during a football game or baseball game taking their equipment when they are way behind and just leaving the field.”
A pair of Texas Democrats who took part in the retreat to Washington, D.C. met with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) last month to discuss the filibuster and the ‘For the People Act.’
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that State Reps Trey Martinez Fischer and Jasmine Crockett “met with Manchin’s chief of staff and legislative director in a 45-minute closed-door meeting.”
Where once they denounced a procedure to avoid a vote, Fischer and Crockett were celebrating tucking tail and running from Texas to do the same.
“This is a now-or-never for our democracy. We are holding the line in Texas,” Fischer said, according to The Day. “We’ve left our jobs, we’ve left our families, we’ve left our homes. Because there is nothing more important than voting rights in America.”
Crockett, according to the Houston Chronicle, was “one of the earliest to depart” for Washington, D.C.
“We saw the writing on the wall,” she said, suggesting Republicans “were going to just push this down our throats and say, ‘This is what you get.'”
Republicans won elections in Texas in 2020 while Democrats suffered spectacular losses. Republicans were voted in by the people. They have every right to ‘push’ legislation. It’s why they were put in office.
The Star-Telegram further reports that Texas Democrats had met with Vice President Kamala Harris last month to discuss federal action to expand voting.
“All citizens have the right to vote. Constitutionally, it is their right,” Harris said as the meeting commenced.
“What we are seeing are examples of an attempt to interfere with that right and attempt to marginalize and take from people a right that has already been given.”
Harris was one of the first prominent Democrats to rush to the defense of the Democrats for fleeing Texas.
Speaking at an event in Detroit, Harris suggested her Democrat colleagues were “showing extraordinary courage and commitment.”
“I applaud them standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote, unencumbered,” she added.
Abbott remarked on the irony of the Democrats’ actions saying it was “hypocrisy” to try “using a filibuster to flee the state of Texas to plead with the president to do away with the filibuster in Washington, D.C.”
The governor said he would “continue calling special session after special session” to force the escapees to “step up to vote.”
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