The Texas House has authorized arrest warrants for the Democrats who left the state to block a bill that would have tightened voter restrictions in the GOP-controlled state.
“Members, the sergeant-at-arms and the officers appointed by him are directed to send for all absentees whose attendance is not excused for the purpose of securing and maintaining their attendance — under warrant of arrest, if necessary,” House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), said from the floor.
House rules allow lawmakers who are not present at the Capitol to be arrested and brought to the chamber by the sergeant-at-arms “or an officer appointed by the sergeant-at-arms.” The Democrats who left the state––and denied the legislation a quorum––have escaped the jurisdiction of Texas law enforcement by crossing state lines.
Earlier this morning during an interview with CNN, Texas House Democrat Trey Martinez Fischer said Democrats need to have “courage,” “conviction,” and “sometimes a little bit of defiance” if they want to stand up in the fight against Republican attempts to impose restrictions on the right to vote. Fleeing the state allowed Dems to block the bill and also pressure Congress to pass the For the People Act, federal voting rights legislation, at the federal level.
“We have a job to do. We are elected by our constituents to be their voice,” Martinez Fischer said. “They have no voice and voting rights is fundamental, so I think we have to have the courage, we have to have conviction, and sometimes a little bit of defiance.”
The news that the House has authorized arrest warrants comes after Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) threatened to arrest Democrats upon their return and promised to “continue to call a special session after special session after special session all the way up until election next year” in order to pass the voter restrictions.