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escalations

Texas House speaker signs warrants to arrest 52 absent Democratic lawmakers

The Texas House voted 80-12 on Tuesday to approve the arrest of 52 Democrats who left the state in July so there wasn't the quorum needed to pass a strict election bill that would add new restrictions on voting.

After the vote, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) signed civil arrest warrants for the lawmakers, which will be delivered to the House sergeant-at-arms on Wednesday morning, Phelan's spokesman told The Dallas Morning News. Earlier Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court overturned an order signed by District Judge Brad Urrutia on Monday that would have prevented 19 House members from being subject to "a call of the House," which Republicans said could be invoked so the Democrats would be forced to return to the Texas Capitol.

Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement it is "fully within our rights as legislators to break quorum to protect our constituents. Texas House Democrats are committed to fighting with everything we have against Republicans' attacks on our freedom to vote." Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D) agreed, tweeting that the "anti-voter bills are nefarious attempts to disenfranchise Texans and these authoritarian motions by Republicans just cement that we are on the right side of history. We must hold the line against these desperate attempts to destroy our democracy."

After the House Democrats were able to first block the bill in May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called a special session in July to get it passed, resulting in their mass exodus. One Republican who is opposed to the measure, Rep. Lyle Larson, voted against authorizing the arrest warrants. "Have we got to the point where we believe our own bull shizz so much that we arrest our own colleagues?" he tweeted. "Civil discourse took a nasty turn today."