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Arrest Warrants Finally Issued for Absent House Democrats

Government

U.S. Capitol | Image by Douglas Rissing

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Nearly one month after Texas House Democrats fled the Capitol to break quorum and halt consideration of election integrity legislation, arrest warrants have now been issued for the missing members.

On Tuesday evening, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) reportedly signed arrest warrants for all 52 absent Democrats who have kept the 150-member body short of the two-thirds required quorum, freezing the Legislature for weeks.

On Monday, State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) made a motion for a “call of the House,” this time for the second special session.

On Tuesday afternoon, the House met briefly, during which time the present members approved a motion to bring the missing Democrats back to the chamber “under warrant of arrest, if necessary.” The only Republican to vote against the motion was State Rep. Lyle Larson of San Antonio.

That same motion, however, was made weeks ago to no avail. At the time, Phelan only signed a single arrest warrant for State Rep. Philip Cortez of San Antonio, who came back to Austin only to leave for Washington, D.C,. again several days later. Cortez was never arrested.

The House is scheduled to reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, a Democrat judge in Travis County issued a restraining order against any arrests being made of legislators related to a call of the House. The Texas Supreme Court overruled the judge—essentially reaffirming the House’s constitutional authority to compel members to attend meetings of the chamber.

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