Texas state Republicans advance bill to prevent quorum breaks

Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives advanced a measure on Tuesday that would allow the legislature to operate without having two-thirds of the members present after House Democrats twice left the state to prevent the passage of an elections reform bill.

The Texas state constitution requires that two-thirds of the House and Senate be present in order for the legislature to operate, which allowed Democrats — 57 out of 150 total House members — to block legislation from passing while they traveled to D.C. to advocate for federal voting legislation.

As the Austin American-Statesman reports, a Texas Senate committee approved a joint resolution that would ask voters to amend the state's constitution so that a simple majority could establish a quorum in the House and Senate.

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"Our state cannot allow a minority of lawmakers to wield such a disproportionate power so as to render the Texas Legislature incapable of responding to our state's needs," state Sen. Brian Birdwell (R) said during a hearing on the resolution on Monday, adding that this would prevent "a minority from crippling or disabling the Legislature."

Birdwell noted that Texas is one of only four states that require a supermajority in order to establish a quorum.

The bill must receive the support of at least two-thirds of the House and Senate before it can be put up for voter approval, the Statesman notes. This means three Democrats in the House and 18 in the Senate would need to join with all of their Republican colleagues to support it.

The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the House Democrats who left the state can be arrested and brought back to the state Capitol hours after Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottMcConaughey says he won't seek political office 'at this moment' Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills One-quarter in Texas unwilling, unlikely to get vaccinated: poll MORE (R) and state House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) asked it to overturn a lower court's ruling that blocked the state from carrying out such arrests.