Arrest Warrants Issued For Texas Democrats
The Texas House of Representatives has issued 52 arrest warrants for Democratic lawmakers who refuse to participate in a special legislative session and are blocking action on Republican proposed voting suppression legislation. Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan said the warrants would be delivered to the House Sergeant-at-Arms “for service” Wednesday morning.
While lawmakers would not be jailed if arrested, they may be brought into the Capitol by law enforcement once the warrants are delivered to the House sergeant-at-arms to be served.
Tuesday’s 80-12 vote in the GOP-controlled house was the second time in recent weeks that Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to use law enforcement to compel the participation of Democratic lawmakers in a special session of the legislature that he has called. In May Democrats walked out of the chamber during the final hours of the regular 2021 legislative session, depriving the body of a quorum and thus blocking the passage of a Republican-sponsored bill that would impose sweeping new restrictions on voting rights in Texas.
Most of the Democrats traveled to Washington, D.C., where they lobbied for federal protection of voting rights.
When that session of the state legislature ended, Abbott called his first 30-day special session. But that effort ended in failure when most of the 67 House Democrats stayed in Washington, D.C., out of the reach of Texas law enforcement.
Last week the state’s chief executive called for a second overtime session, which started on Saturday, the day after the first one ended. He has vowed to call “special session after special session” to force passage of the voting measure as well as other conservative priorities.
Democratic Rep. Celia Israel, who has returned to her Austin home but has not back to the House floor, told The Washington Post in a phone interview, “I think they’re bluffing. Do they really want to arrest a woman of color? They’re just thumping their chests.”
Asked whether she would be on the House floor Wednesday morning, Israel responded, “Hell no.”