The Texas House walkout escalated dramatically on Tuesday, when state Republicans voted "overwhelmingly" to find, return and, if necessary, arrest absent Democrats, The Wall Street Journal and Texas Tribune report. Vice President Harris is meeting with the lawmakers taking refuge in the nation's capital, where they are lobbying with Congress to pass a federal bill that renders Texas' legislation moot.
"I think they have shown great courage, and certainly great conviction and commitment," said Harris of the lonestar Democrats.
On Monday, over 50 House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to break quorum and block a vote on restrictive voting rights legislation. In response, House Republicans voted on Tuesday to allow "law enforcement to track down absentee lawmakers — arresting them if necessary and forcing them to return to the chamber," the Journal reports. However, the procedural move "carries little apparent weight," since "Texas law enforcement lacks jurisdiction" out of state, the Tribune adds.
All in all, it remains to be seen whether Democrats' ambitious gambit will pay off — Gov. Greg Abbott (R) could just call another special session to pass the contentious voting bill, or simply add it to the agenda when the House meets later this summer. It appears the "only long-term solution" is federal legislation, the Journal writes.
"We can't stay here indefinitely," said Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Texas). "Texas Democrats will use everything in our power to fight back. But we need Congress to act now."