Governor Greg Abbott has threatened to arrest Democratic lawmakers who skipped a special session to prevent Republican-backed election reform legislation from becoming law.
“Isn’t this the most un-Texan thing you’ve ever heard—Texans running from a fight? They’re quitters,” Abbott (R), said on Fox News.
On Monday, about 60 Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives fled to Washington, DC on two private jets to urge Congress and the Biden administration to enact federal voting rights legislation.
The House lacks a quorum and is unable to vote on any legislation due to the members’ not being present.
This is the second time Democrats simply fled in order to deprive the House of a quorum. On May 30, just hours before an expected vote on the election legislation, they walked out of the chamber in the final hours of the regular legislative session.
Gov. Abbott says he will call for another special legislative session just as he did in May.
“Once they step back into the state they will be arrested and brought back to the Capitol and we will be conducting business,” the governor promised.
“We have special sessions that last 30 days,” he added. “And the governor calls them, and I will continue calling special session after special session because over time it is going to continue until they step up to vote.”
According to the Texas Tribune, the House of Representatives can vote to lock the doors to prevent legislators from fleeing. They can even order law enforcement to seek down and jail any members who have already fled.
Republicans contend the voting measures they want to push through—such as ending 24-hour polling places, banning ballot drop boxes, and empowering partisan poll watchers—are intended to guarantee the integrity of the vote by blocking voter fraud.