Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan on Aug. 7 called for the lower chamber to be adjourned until Aug. 9 because not enough Democrats showed up for the special legislative session.
“A quorum is not present,” Phelan said; minutes later, he adjourned the session.
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said the Democrats broke the quorum in an attempt to block the Republicans’ election bill.
“Texas House Democrats continue in our fight to stop Texas Republicans’ efforts to undermine our democracy by passing their anti-voter legislation. Day by day, we will keep fighting with everything we have to protect Texans’ freedom to vote,” he said in a statement.
Democrats have argued that the GOP-backed voting overhaul bill would unfairly target minority groups in the Lone Star State, while Republicans have said the measure is needed to safeguard future elections and would restore the public’s confidence in them.
However, Phelan stated that several other bills are also delayed because of Democrats’ absence during the last special session.
“The Texas House could not address important issues such as approving a 13th check for our retired teachers, improving our foster care system, and passing crucial legislation on bail reform and election integrity because a number of Democrats deliberately broke quorum,” he said in a statement a day before the current special session would start.
The Texas House has 82 Republicans and 67 Democrats. The Republicans need 18 Democrats to have a quorum, which requires two-thirds of the House members to show up.
In the Senate, the Republicans were able to pass the elections bill through a party-line vote on July 13.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a second special legislative session to pass the Republican-backed voting law after the same efforts failed in the legislative season and previous special session.
The announcement comes after more than 50 Democrats left Texas on July 12 to avoid voting on an election reform bill. In late May, hours before the legislative session was slated to end, Democrats walked out of the House and denied Republicans the ability to vote on the measure.
Democrats made a bigger gambit—by decamping to Washington on chartered jets—to run out the clock on the GOP’s second try. But the group was quickly forced to change some plans after several of its members tested positive for COVID-19.
Texas would ban 24-hour polling locations and drive-through voting, and give partisan poll watchers more access under the bill that Republicans have proposed.
Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to the report.