Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, has chartered a plane to sit and wait in Washington, D.C., for the absentee Democrat lawmakers who fled the state to avoid voting on an election bill promoted by Republicans in the state.
“In an effort to further compel House Democrats to return to the State of Texas, I am chartering a plane that will be on standby in Washington, D.C. on Saturday,” Phelan wrote in a statement.
“I am demanding all of our colleagues in D.C. to contact my staff immediately in order to secure their seat on the plan and return to Austin in order to do the state’s business. The State of Texas is waiting.”
The missing Democrats responded via a group Tweet, “The Speaker should save his money. We won’t be needing a plane anytime soon, as our work to save democracy from the Trump Republicans is just getting started.”
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott vows to keep calling special sessions until there is a quorum in the House to pass the critical legislation.
The AWOL Democrats fled the state in an attempt to break the House quorum and deny votes on election integrity measures.
Texas state troopers are authorized to seek out and return the absentee legislators to the state capital.
Gov. Abbott has stated that the errant Dems are at risk of being arrested once they return to Texas. Despite the absence of the Democrats, House Republicans continue to report to the Texas Capitol awaiting their colleagues’ return.
Texas Democrats have been meeting with members of Congress while in Washington D.C. to discuss voting reforms on a national level.
Republicans in Congress are at odds with the Texas Democrats and their meetings with congressional leaders, which they see as an unconstitutional federal takeover of the authority that states have over elections.
Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, estimates that the Texas Democrats’ decision to go AWOL is costing taxpayers $43,000 per day. Additionally, their staff members and aides are not being paid.
“While these Texas Democrats collect taxpayer money as they ride on private jets to meet with the Washington elite, those who remain in the chamber await their return to begin work on providing our retired teachers a 13th check, protecting our foster kids, and providing taxpayer relief,” Speaker Phelan explained.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently blasted the Texas Democrats from the Senate floor.
McConnell said the Dems were in Washington to “snap selfies, bask in the limelight, and beg Senate Democrats to take over Texas’ elections. State legislators from Texas decided to grab some beer, hop on a private jet, and flee the state in what they are pretending is some great moral crusade,” McConnell continued.
“The outrage is completely phony.”
According to Gov. Abbott’s administration, the special 30-day session seeks to pass legislation regarding teaching critical race theory in public schools, regulating mail-in balloting, banning drop-box locations that were disproportionately placed in voting districts that were heavily Democratic instead of Republican areas.
It also addresses border security on the longest contiguous unfenced stretch of border, a section of more than 600 miles in the middle of the Texas border with Mexico.
Texas House Democrat Joe Moody was recently relieved of his speaker pro tempore duties as part of disciplinary acts announced by Speaker Phelan.
Phelan said that the removal of Moody resulted from his participation in the walk-out and abandonment of his House duties.