Texas Republicans hammered Democratic state lawmakers on Monday after they fled the state in an effort to derail a restrictive new voting measure in the GOP-controlled legislature.
Top Republicans expressed frustration with the move, accusing Democrats of abandoning their responsibilities in Austin in order to jet off to Washington, D.C., in private planes chartered for the trip. In fleeing Texas, Democratic state lawmakers are seeking to block Republicans from advancing a raft of new voting restrictions by depriving them of the quorum needed to conduct legislative business.
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Texas) panned the Democratic effort on Monday, telling reporters that Texans “don’t run away” from a challenge.
“It’s not very Texan,” Cornyn said, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. “You stay and you fight.”
Just asked Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of Senate GOP leadership, about Dem legislators fleeing his state to scuttle Republican efforts on voting legislation: “It’s not very Texan. You stay and you fight — you don't run away.”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 12, 2021
Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottProposed Texas map adds two new congressional districts to Austin, Houston Texas surpasses 4 million COVID-19 cases threshold The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats stare down 'hell' week MORE (R) noted that by denying a quorum, Democrats were preventing the legislature from voting on a range of issues, including property tax relief, funding for children in foster care and money for law enforcement officials in “high-crime areas.”
"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," Abbott said in a statement. "As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state."
Texas state House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) vowed to draw on “every available resource under the Texas Constitution and the unanimously-passed House Rules to secure a quorum.”
“The special session clock is ticking – I expect all Members to be present in our Capitol in order to immediately get to work on these issues,” Phelan said in a statement.
The maneuver by Democratic state lawmakers in Texas comes less than two months after they staged a walkout in the waning days of the state’s regular session as part of a last-ditch effort to kill a sweeping elections overhaul measure pushed by Republicans.
But the trip to D.C. looks more like a 2003 effort by Texas Democrats to stall a Republican bill redrawing the state’s congressional districts by fleeing to Oklahoma.
In this case, however, the state lawmakers will likely have to stay out of Texas for weeks, given that special legislative sessions can last up to 30 days. This latest special session began just Thursday.