AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Democrats have been holed up in Washington since Monday in order to prevent state Republicans from passing sweeping voting legislation. The plan likely is for them to remain in the capital until after the conclusion of the current special legislative session, on Aug. 7.
House Speaker Dade Phelan on Thursday said he will charter a plane for the Democrats on which he expects them to return to Texas. Quorum is broken in the Texas House and as long as the Democrats remain away, little legislative business can be completed.
“In an effort to compel House Democrats to return to the State of Texas, I am chartering a plane that will be on standby in Washington, D.C. on Saturday,” Phelan wrote in a statement. “I am demanding all of our colleagues in D.C. to contact my staff immediately in order to secure their seat on the plane and return to Austin in order to do the state’s business. The State of Texas is waiting.”
Those House Democrats responded to Phelan’s demands a short time later.
“The Speaker should save his money. We won’t be needing a plane anytime soon, as our work to save democracy from the Trump Republicans is just getting started,” a statement from Texas Democrats reads. “We’re not going anywhere and suggest instead the speaker end this charade of a session, which is nothing more than a monthlong campaign commercial for Gov. Abbott’s re-election. The speaker should adjourn the House Sine Die.”
About a dozen Texas Democrats on Thursday met with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV. The moderate Democratic senator has so far refused to support an exception to the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to move forward on most legislation in the equally divided Senate.
Texas Democrats have called on Congress to pass voting rights bills that would nullify the efforts of the Texas GOP.