Everything’s bigger in Texas, including Democrats’ political courage. On Monday morning, Texas Democrats stopped playing by the GOP’s rules in a state Republicans control and threw a wrench into Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to ram through a slew of voter suppression laws. How did Democrats manage to actually stall the Republican war on voting? They stopped compromising and started fighting.
Fifty-eight Democratic members of the state’s House packed their bags and fled the state on Monday afternoon, just enough to paralyze legislative business in Austin. House rules required two-thirds of the chamber’s 150 members to be president for business to be conducted, which means none of the nightmares in the Texas GOP’s bag of tricks can find their way to Abbott’s eager pen. The Democrats will likely need to remain on the lam for weeks in order to wait out the legislative clock.
But House rules also say that if there’s not a quorum, a majority vote to “secure and maintain” one would mean that “All absentees for whom no sufficient excuse is made may, by order of a majority of those present, be sent for and arrested, wherever they may be found, by the sergeant-at-arms or an officer appointed by the sergeant-at-arms for that purpose, and their attendance shall be secured and retained.”