AUSTIN, Texas — For the first time since July 12, when Democrats fled to Washington, D.C., in response to a Republican-backed election reform bill, the Texas House has finally reached a quorum.
Texas lawmakers are currently working through a second special session, after the first one failed to get much work done due to the absence of the many Democrats. Thursday marks day 12 of the second session, meaning there are now 17 days for representatives to work through the agenda.
The Texas House has now received the bills already passed in the Senate. With a quorum present, they were immediately read and referred to their respective committees. SB 1, Texas Senate's voting bill, has been referred to the House's special session committee. The House adjourned shortly thereafter.
"We are proud of the heroic work and commitment we and our fellow Democratic caucus members have shown in breaking quorum in May and again over this summer," said Houston Reps. Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle upon their return on Twitter. "We took the fight for voting rights to Washington, D.C., and brought national attention to the partisan push in our state to weaken ballot access. Our efforts were successful and served as the primary catalyst to push Congress to take action on federal voter protection legislation. Now, we continue the fight on the House floor."
The Democratic Caucus said it did not know the state representatives were returning to the floor today.
"This could have been shared with caucus members beforehand," said State Rep. Donna Howard, in a tweet reply to the joint statement.
One other Democratic state representative also publicly accused the representatives of blindsiding the caucus.
"We were literally on caucus calls for two hours this morning and none of the defecting Democrats mentioned they were planning on helping the Republicans pass voter suppression bills," said State Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos in a tweet.
The necessary number for a quorum in the House of Representatives changed Thursday because U.S. Rep. Leo Pacheco resigned effective Thursday to take his congressional seat. Rep. Jake Ellzey's – who is also now a congressman – seat was also vacant. The quorum decreased from 100 to 99 – now two-thirds of the House.
Thursday's news comes after several weeks of attempts to get the Democrats to come back to Austin, including threats of arrest, per-diem recalls and even offers to provide a chartered plane back to Texas.
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