First warrant signed for Texas Democrat who fled to DC

Texas state House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) this week signed the first warrant directed at state Democrats who fled to Washington, D.C., to prevent a vote on a controversial election bill.

Phelan signed a civil warrant Sunday for Rep. Philip Cortez, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

Cortez initially left Texas with fellow Democratic state legislators on July 12 but went back in what he said was an attempt to work with Republicans on the legislation opposed by Democrats.

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Cortez returned to Texas on Wednesday to negotiate with Republicans before he fled the state for a second time.

The July 12 exodus by state Democrats has forced House members to come to the floor every day and request special permission from Phelan to leave. Cortez made such a request after he returned to Texas, and Phelan said he would grant permission if Cortez promised to come back.

Cortez vowed to return and received permission to leave the floor, according to the Post.

However, he left the state again on Sunday and returned to D.C.

Phelan said Cortez's action has irrevocably broken my trust and the trust of this chamber.”

"As a condition of being granted permission to temporarily leave the House floor, Rep. Cortez promised his House colleagues that he would return," Phelan said, The Texas Tribune reported. "Instead, he fled the state."

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Cortez said in a statement after arriving in D.C. on Sunday that he has "a duty to my constituents to do everything I can to stop this harmful legislation."

The Democrats fled the state to stop a vote on voting rights legislation they say is too restrictive.

The group plans to stay in D.C. until the special session is over, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) indicated he will call another special session to get the bill through once the Democrats return.

Any civil warrants signed by Phelan cannot be carried out until the Democrats return to Texas.