The Texas Home stalemate is damaged when three Houston Democrats finish the holdout and clear the best way for work to renew
Updated at 6:46 pm with comments from House Speaker Dade Phelan.
AUSTIN – Three Democrats broke from the ranks and returned to the Texas home Thursday, leaving the Republicans with enough members to resume work on a controversial electoral law and end a week-long stalemate.
Silence fell over the room as Houston Reps. Garnet Coleman, Armando Walle and Ana Hernandez entered the room together. In a statement, the three said they were proud of the work they had done to bring the “struggle for the right to vote” to Washington DC
“Now we’re going to continue the fight on the House Floor,” they said.
Their presence shocked many in their own party who, just hours earlier, were convinced that they could turn Governor Greg Abbott’s second special session inside out by continuing their boycott.
Since mid-July, a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives had refused to come to the Capitol in protest against the electoral law, which they denounced as voter suppression. Their absence forced work to come to a standstill, as the house cannot conduct business without a quorum present.
At around 6 p.m. House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, hammered in the room. After the participant was admitted – with 99 members present, the bare minimum – he declared a quorum and expressed his relief.
“It’s time to get back to business in Texas. I appreciate each of you. I look forward to working with you in the next week or two, ”said Phelan.
With enough House members in attendance, lawmakers can work full steam not only on the electoral law but also on the rest of the agenda for Abbott’s special session. Bills hearings could start this weekend.
Abbott’s agenda includes funding border security, overhauling the state bail system, further restricting abortion-promoting drugs, and restricting sports teams that transgender students can play on.
The Senate has already passed a large part of the agenda and sent the bills to the House of Representatives, where they stalled.
House Democrats twice turned the GOP electoral law on its head by escaping the Chamber. The first was a strike at the end of the regular legislature. The second marked the start of Abbott’s first special session when they fled to Washington, DC, where they pressured Congress to pass a federal voting law.
Since the start of the second special session on August 7, the Democrats had been holding onto a fragile agreement to comply with the wishes of the majority. Since their return from Washington, where many of them camped to stop the electoral law, most factions have supported the continuation of the quorum break.
According to various members and democratic activists, the majority opinion on Thursday morning was to stay away from the Capitol. But there had always been concerns that some veteran members, including Coleman of Houston, would break out of their ranks and help Republicans achieve a quorum.
The mantra of most House Democrats: “Every day when there is no quorum is a good day.”
It remains to be seen whether the rest of the absent Democrats will return.