Speed Reads

born to run

Texas Democrats fled state to block GOP voting restrictions. Will it make a difference?

Armed with little more than a case of Miller Lite, Democrats in the Texas state House fled for Washington, D.C., on Monday in the hopes of blocking their Republican counterparts' effort to enact new voting restrictions in the state.

Per The Texas Tribune, at least 51 of the 67 Democratic representatives ditched a special legislative session in Austin with 26 days left to go and hopped on two planes headed for the nation's capital. In doing so, they broke quorum, meaning there won't be enough members present to conduct business under House rules when the chamber reconvenes Tuesday. The party already did something similar this year when the voting legislation was previously up for a vote, though they didn't cross state in lines in that instance. 

Democrats, the Tribune notes, don't have the votes to block the bill, so their goal is to convince Congress to pass a sweeping federal elections reform bill that would render the Texas bill moot. If they're unsuccessful, they're likely out of long-term options — even if the Democrats remain in D.C. until the end of the special session, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) can still call more 30-day sessions or add the voting bill to the agenda when the House meets later this summer for the redrawing of Texas' political maps, the Tribune reports.

More immediately, the Tribune notes, the GOP could theoretically turn the Democrats into "legislative fugitives" since, under House rules, any lawmaker can move to "secure and maintain a quorum" to consider certain legislation with the backing of 15 members and, subsequently, a majority vote. If that's successful, "all absentees for whom no sufficient excuse is made may, by order of a majority of those present, be sent for and arrested, wherever they may be found, by the sergeant-at-arms ... and their attendance shall be secured and retained." Read more at The Texas Tribune.