Texas House Republicans vote to track down absent Democrats and arrest them

ByNick Natario, Ted Oberg KTRK logo
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Texas House Republicans vote to arrest absent Democrats
The arrest warrant tells the sergeant at arms and Texas DPS to arrest state representatives who broke quorum and bring them back.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas House Republicans have approved an arrest warrant to bring House Democrats who fled the state back to the statehouse for the special session.

Tuesday morning, the House returned to work after adjourning for the weekend. They couldn't debate or vote on bills because 57 Democrats didn't show up.

MORE: TX Democrats aim to 'do what's best for constituents' during special session

Republicans were able to approve a measure to compel lawmakers to return to Austin. The arrest warrant tells the sergeant at arms and Texas Department of Public Safety to arrest state representatives who broke quorum and bring them back.

Since Democrats left the state, they can't be arrested until they return to Austin. Not all Democrats left.

RELATED: 'This is a now-or-never:' Texas Democrats leave state to try to stop GOP voting bill

Four of them returned to the chamber Tuesday, including State Rep. Eddie Morales. He told ABC13 that some of them remained behind to make sure integrity was kept in the House.

Even still, the remaining Democrats are being kept in the chamber under lock and key. Morales explained members needed permission to leave for anything, including using the restroom or going to eat.

WATCH: Remaining House Dems locked in at Texas Capitol, lawmaker says

As 57 Texas House Democrats fled to Washington amid a showdown over controversial voting reforms, one of the few remaining lawmakers on the left who stayed in Austin explains what's being down at the statehouse.

Republicans attempted to remove Democrats from leadership roles, including chairman and pro-tem positions, but stopped the measure after realizing removing lawmakers from leadership roles is against the rules adopted by the House.

Another change Tuesday: keys were missing from the chamber desks of those who left. Democrats asked the clerk to remove the keys so no votes could be cast.

The House is at a standstill. Lawmakers cannot debate bills in the chamber, nor hold committee hearings.

The House is at ease, but the Senate is business as usual. Democrats returned to the Senate Tuesday morning. Lawmakers expect to vote on Senate Bill 1, which is the election integrity bill Tuesday afternoon.

WATCH: Mayor Sylvester Turner vows to protect absent lawmakers from authorities

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who became a target of GOP lawmakers over voting methods used in Harris County, made a vow to protect Democratic lawmakers amid a GOP call to arrest the absent public servants.

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