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Texas House Dems Return To State After Fleeing Over Voting Rights Bill

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Some of the Texas House Democrats who fled the state to protest new voting restrictions returned, calling themselves “heroic.”

According to The Associated Press, the Democrats left Washington, D.C., for Texas after 38 days. As the outlet notes, a bill that already passed the state Senate includes changes to the way Texas votes that Democrats have opposed for months. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) could sign the bill in the coming weeks.

The majority of the more than 50 Democrats who fled the state are keeping their distance from the Texas Capitol, while only three new Democrats showed up on Thursday, as The Associated Press reports. Enough of them returned to achieve a quorum.

Earlier this week, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state House of Representatives can arrest absent members if they fail to return to the state Capitol.

Democratic state Reps. Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez, and Armando Walle issued a statement following their return.

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“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. 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,” they said.

The Democrats continued, “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.”

Read their statement below:

Was this the right move?

Touching on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Democrats said it is time “to come together to help our state mitigate the effects of the current COVID-19 surge by allowing public health officials to do their jobs, provide critical resources for school districts to conduct virtual learning when necessary, while also ensuring schools are a safe place for in-person instruction, and will not become a series of daily super-spreader events.”

They received some criticism for their move.

State Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos tweeted, “We were literally on caucus calls for 2 hours this morning and none of the defecting Democrats mentioned they were planning on helping the Republicans pass voter suppression bills. Guess what the other defecting Democrats have accomplished by going back—NOTHING!”

The current special session ends on September 5, and Republicans are working to pass new voting legislation before then.

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