Dallas Rep. Denounces Quorum Break Rule


Texas Rep. Carl Sherman Sr. | Image by Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

Texas Representative Carl Sherman Sr. (D-Lancaster) has denounced an amendment to the House Rules passed last week which threatened to penalize members of the House of Representatives who are absent without leave.

Sherman suggested that the amendment was included as a retaliatory measure against Democrats who broke quorum during the most recent regular session in 2021 to prevent a vote on an elections bill.

The amendment allows for a member who is “absent without leave for the purpose of impeding the action of the House” to be punished in various ways, including fines, reprimand, censure, and expulsion.

“I think that, here, in politics, there’s always, it seems, a revenge element,” Sherman told The Dallas Express. “That’s unfortunate.”

“The fact is that political parties will use any legal measures that they can that are available to them,” he said in defense of the quorum break from the last session.

“You know, even Abraham Lincoln, when the Illinois State [House] was looking to push through draconian legislation, the only effort he could use was to deny them a quorum,” Sherman claimed. “So, he ended up jumping out of the second-story window.”

Rep. Sherman was referring to an incident that occurred while Lincoln was a representative in the Illinois State House. A contemporary report documented that Lincoln and potentially a few of his Whig comrades leaped from the building in an attempt to prevent the House from adjourning sine die.

“Mr. Lincoln came to great excitement, and having attempted and failed to get out at the door, very unceremoniously raised the window and jumped out, followed by one or two other members,” a local paper reported at the time.

However, Lincoln’s quorum break attempt was in order to prevent the House from ending the session before voting on key bills, as opposed to attempting to stop legislation from being passed.

Sherman nevertheless took issue with the idea that the Texas House could remove a member from his or her elected position.

“They didn’t hire us, I didn’t hire them,” Sherman said, referring to the other members. “I have no right to put these instruments that are just un-American.”

The author of the anti-quorum amendment, Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), explained, “The whole idea is, let’s operate as a House. Let’s be here, let’s get business done. But we got to have a procedure.”

The measure also enjoyed some bipartisan support, as Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) voted in favor of the amendment, suggesting, “All it does is codify in the rules what I believe the House already had the power to do.”

If you enjoyed this article, please support us today!

Formed in 2021, we provide fact-based, non-partisan news. The Dallas Express is a non-profit organization funded by charitable support and advertising.

Please join us on the important journey to make Dallas a better place!

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

Subscribe to Comments
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments