Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives have defied threats of arrest after traveling from the state to Washington, DC, in an attempt to prevent Republicans from passing a controversial new election law.
And more than 50 of these Democratic members traveled to Washington with the aim of disrupting the work of the House of Representatives in Texas, before a vote is scheduled to take place on that proposed legislation.
Voting on this proposed law requires a quorum, which requires the presence of two-thirds of the 150 members of the House.
Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, threatened these politicians with arrest.
Abbott said he would ask the police to arrest them “as soon as they return” to Texas.
“They will be held at Government House in Texas until they finish their work,” he added, during an interview with Caffeo ABC News.
In the city of Austin, where the government is located in Texas, Republican members of the US House of Representatives authorized the police to arrest and bring Democrats “under an arrest warrant if necessary.”
However, the Texas police do not have out-of-state jurisdiction.
Eddie Moriels, a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives, who did not accompany the Democrats to Washington, said he ruled out state police moving to Washington to arrest these politicians.
The proposed new election law, which has led to Democratic members traveling from Texas, would ban polling stations from operating 24 hours a day, while adding more ID requirements for mail-in voting.
The legislation was proposed amid attempts to impose more voting restrictions in Republican-majority states. Republicans see these measures as necessary to secure the electoral process, while Democrats see them as an infringement of the right to vote.
The Texas Senate passed its version of the election legislation, but the absence of Democrats who traveled to Washington blocked passage of the House version because there was no quorum.
The proposed legislation must be passed by the state Senate and House of Representatives in order for it to become real law.
Democrats, who flew from Austin to Washington on two private planes on Monday, pledged not to return to Texas until the end of the proposed law’s 30-day session.
“We intend to stay away until we get this bill done,” said Chris Turner, the Democratic Caucus leader in the Texas House of Representatives.
At a news conference in front of the US Capitol, Turner said Texas lawmakers would use their time in Washington “to appeal to the people in this building behind us for federal suffrage legislation.”
But the Texas governor has vowed to keep calling for special sessions until the Republican-backed election law is passed.