Speed Reads

voting rights fight

Texas House Democrats return to the state Capitol, ending 38-day standoff

For the first time in 38 days, the Texas House reached a quorum on Thursday, after some of the Democrats who left in July to protest voting restrictions returned to the state Capitol.

More than 50 House Democrats fled Texas last month in order to ensure there wasn't a quorum, keeping the GOP-backed voting measure from passing. The Democrats traveled en masse to Washington, D.C., where they urged lawmakers to take action on federal voting rights legislation. Two of those Democrats came to the Texas state Capitol on Thursday afternoon, along with a colleague who had been out recovering from having his leg amputated, and having those three present was enough for the House to achieve a quorum.

In a statement, the Democrats — state Reps. Armando Walle, Ana Hernandez, and Garnet Coleman — said they were "proud" to have broken quorum, but with COVID-19 "ravaging our state and overwhelming our health care system," it was "time to move past these partisan legislative calls, and to come together to help our state mitigate the effects of the current COVID-19 surge."

The House is in a 30-day special session that will end on Sept. 5, and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has made it clear he wants strict voting legislation passed before then. Over the last several months, Texas Republicans have called for banning 24-hour polling sites, Sunday morning early voting, and drive-thru voting, as well as giving partisan poll watchers more access to voting sites, The Associated Press reports.