AUSTIN (KXAN) — Democrats in the Texas Legislature walked out in the midst of a special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week and headed to Washington, D.C. — hoping to block the Republicans’ voting legislation by stalling the special session.
“Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote,” Texas House Democrats said in a joint statement.
Meanwhile, Republicans argue all 254 counties in the state need to have uniform voting rules, and the proposed legislation would not make it harder to vote, just harder to cheat.
Abbott, R-Texas, said he plans to call 30-day special sessions over and over until Democrats return. House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, authorized authorities to compel lawmakers to come back to the House chamber by any means necessary, including arrest, but that jurisdiction ends at the state line.
Here’s which of your Democratic lawmakers stayed in our state and which ones left for our nation’s Capitol.
Texas lawmakers not in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Eddie Morales, Jr. of Eagle Pass said he would not be joining his more than 50 colleagues in Washington, D.C., because he felt he could get more done in Texas. He posted a statement Friday which said in part: “I believe that staying to both debate and articulate my reasons for opposing the bill is the best way for me to represent my particular district. That said, I support the decision of my colleagues who choose to fight this bill differently, using parliamentary procedures.”
Rep. Abel Herrero of District 34, which includes parts of Corpus Christi, posted on Twitter: “Although not in Washington, D.C. with other Democrats breaking quorum to oppose voter suppression legislation, I fully support their efforts. While responsibilities in the district have kept me from being in Austin, I will join other Democrats to fight against oppressive legislation upon returning to the Texas Capitol.”
KXAN’s Wes Rapaport saw Rep. Terry Canales at the Texas Capitol Friday, though he has not posted anything official.
Tracy King of Batesville, Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City and John Turner of Dallas have also opted to stay behind. Here’s what Turner said Tuesday on the matter:
Not listed in a joint release from Senate Democrats opting to break quorum were four state Senators: John Whitmire, Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Judith Zaffirini and Eddie Lucio, Jr.
Sen. John Whitmire was acknowledged this week in Texas for being the longest-serving Dean of the Texas Senate.
Texas lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
More than 50 Texas House Democrats were reported to be in the nation’s Capitol — the Texas Tribune reports the exact number is 56.
State Rep. Gina Hinojoso told KXAN during an interview from her D.C. hotel room that Democrats “came to D.C., in part to get away from Texas, but really more importantly to urge Congress, urge the U.S. Senate to pass federal voting rights legislation that will protect Texans’ voting rights and protect the rights of all Americans.”
State Rep. Shawn Thierry, from Houston, was not on the flight to Washington, D.C. but joined her colleagues a day later, after taking extra time to secure a plan for her 8-year-old daughter.
State Rep. Erin Zwiener, of Driftwood, brought her 3-year-old daughter, Lark, with her to Capitol Hill, explaining her husband has to stay in Texas to pay the bills and noting the uncertainty of the length of the trip.
State Rep. John Bucy III, of Cedar Park, drove nearly 24 hours to the East Coast with his pregnant wife and 17-month-old baby.
State Rep. Celia Israel, from Austin, was supposed to get married on Thursday, which is also her birthday, but ended up in Washington, D.C. instead.
Rep. Joe Moody, of El Paso, was stripped of his duties as speaker pro tem by House Speaker Phelan earlier this week because of his departure from Texas.
“The most important titles in my life will never change: Dad, Husband, El Pasoan,” Moody said in a tweet. “Nothing political has ever even cracked the top three, so nothing has changed about who I am or what my values are.”
Rep. Alex Dominguez, who represents District 37, tweeted Saturday: “My colleagues and I left Texas because our very democracy is at stake. I won’t let the GOP steal your freedom to vote.”
Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos of District 102 and Rep. Jessica González of District 104 confirmed they left and talked about why they broke quorum in a Facebook live.
Rep. Senfronia Thompson of District 141 has been one of the most vocal lawmakers from Washington, D.C. and videos of her have been widely shared on social media.
Rep. Ann Johnson from District 134 is one of the Texas lawmakers who shared the above video saying, “This is why we are here.”
A spokesperson for Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins from District 120 confirmed she was in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Armando Walle from District 140 tweeted a photo of his family saying “they know I serve and fight for what’s right.”
He also posted a statement saying in part: “Unfortunately we are here again in Washington, D.C. today because of the choices of Texas Republican leaders to prioritize so-called ‘Election Integrity’ legislation, or more accurately, voter suppression legislation over the numerous issues that remain unfinished, like fixing and protecting our Texas grid or COVID relief for our community, or our public health safety net that is a crisis away from collapse.”
Rep. Art Fierro, District 79, tweeted: “I am proud today to stand with my fellow Democrats in the fight for voting rights.”
State Rep. Carl O. Sherman shared a live video on Facebook: “Washington, D.C. the Texas HDC hosted a press conference to discuss our decision to break quorum.”
They are among the nearly 60 House Democrats that have fled Texas, the Texas Tribune reports.
Here is a list of other Democratic lawmakers who are believed to be in Washington, D.C., according to reports from staff members, social media and the Texas Tribune (click hyperlinks to see posts from those lawmakers regarding the quorum and where they are, if immediately available):
- Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, HD-39 can be seen in this photo
- Rep. Alma Allen, HD-131 can be seen in this photo
- Rep. Chris Turner, HD-101
- Rep. Christina Morales, HD-145
- Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez, HD-76
- Rep. Diego Bernal, HD-123
- Rep. Donna Howard, HD-48
- Rep. Eddie Lucio III, HD-38 appears in this video
- Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, HD-51
- Rep. Elizabeth Campos, HD-19
- Rep. Evelina “Lina” Ortega, HD-77
- Rep. Gene Wu, HD-137
- Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., HD-142 can be seen in this photo
- Rep. Hubert Vo, HD-149 can be seen in this photo
- Rep. Ina Minjarez, HD-124
- Rep. James Talarico, HD-52
- Rep. Jarvis D. Johnson, HD-139
- Rep. Jasmine Crockett, HD-100
- Rep. Joe Deshotel, HD-22
- Rep. Jon Rosenthal, HD-135
- Rep. Julie Johnson, HD-115
- Rep. Mary Ann Perez, HD-144
- Rep. Mary González, HD-75 can be seen in this photo
- Rep. Michelle Beckley, HD-65
- Rep. Nicole Collier, HD-95
- Rep. Penny Morales Shaw, HD-148
- Rep. Philip Cortez, HD-117
- Rep. Rafael Anchía, HD-103
- Rep. Ramon Romero Jr., HD-90
- Rep. Ray Lopez, HD-125
- Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers, HD-113
- Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, HD-42 can be seen in this photo
- Rep. Robert “Bobby” Guerra, HD- 41
- Rep. Ron Reynolds, HD-27
- Rep. Sheryl Cole, HD-46
- Rep. Terry Meza, HD-105 can be seen in this photo
- Rep. Toni Rose, HD-110
- Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, HD-116
- Rep. Victoria Neave, HD-107
- Rep. Vikki Goodwin, HD-47
- Rep. Yvonne Davis, HD-111 can be seen in this photo
- Rep. Ana Hernandez, HD-143
The group of lawmakers said they plan to remain out of state until after the special legislative session ends on Aug. 6.
Senator Carol Alvarado of District 6 has been outspoken about breaking quorum both online and in national media. She is seen in this tweet posted by Texas Democrats speaking from Washington, D.C.
Senator Beverly Powell of District 10 posted a notice on Twitter announcing she would be flying to Washington, D.C. saying in part: “In the current legislative environment in the Texas Capitol, my colleagues and I determined the most effective way to defend Texas’ freedom to vote was to make the case with the federal officials in Washington D.C.”
Senator Borris L. Miles of District 13 also posted to Twitter: “I have joined my Democratic colleagues in DC to protect the rights of our voters. SB 1/HB 3 would strip the freedom to vote from our communities by creating deliberate barriers to voting.”
Texas Senate Democrats released a joint statement, with a running list of Democratic Senators that would be breaking quorum, aside from the Senators listed above, they also included the following names on that list: Senators Nathan Johnson, José Menéndez, César Blanco, Sarah Eckhardt, Roland Gutierrez and Royce West.
KXAN was unable to confirm the location of three representatives: Rep. Leo Pacheco, Rep. Oscar Longoria, Rep. Sergio Muñoz.