More pressure on Texas Democrats as GOP moves to end holdout

Aug 10, 2021, 3:41 AM | Updated: 4:10 pm

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Thirty days after Democrats left Texas to stop new voting restrictions, cracks in the standoff widened Tuesday as more begin returning home from Washington, D.C., and Republicans again authorized using law enforcement to find those who still refuse to come back.

But unlike a month ago, when missing Democrats were out of state and beyond the reach of Texas officers, some are now holding out from home. Republican Dade Phelan, speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, said Democrats could be compelled to return under “warrant of arrest if necessary,” although the stalemate remains a civil and not criminal matter.

“People aren’t going to jail, but they got to come back to work,” Republican state Rep. Mayes Middleton said.

How soon or even whether law enforcement would seek out Democrats was not immediately clear. But the move and other setbacks for Democrats put the protest over a GOP elections overhaul on unsteady ground a month after more than 50 of them bolted to Washington, D.C., in a dramatic show of unity to make Texas the front lines of a new national battle over voting rights.

The pressure tactic by Republicans comes as Democrats disagree over how — and when — to retreat. The divisions have spilled in the open as the GOP presses forward with a third attempt to pass an elections overhaul. With new court losses and attention turning toward Texas’ surging COVID-19 caseloads, pressure is mounting on Democrats who lack the numbers to permanently stop a bill from passing.

As of Tuesday, Republicans needed just five more lawmakers present in House to move forward with a raft of tweaks and changes to the state’s election code would make it harder — and even, sometimes, legally riskier — to cast a ballot in Texas, which already has some of the most restrictive election laws in the nation.

“We had many heated debates in Washington as we debated our own next steps,” said state Rep. James Talarico, one of a handful of Democrats who returned to the Texas Capitol this week. “I’m going to keep those arguments in private. But I know emotions are rightfully running high everywhere, and it’s been a difficult month.”

Texas is among several states where Republicans have rushed to enact new voting restrictions in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. The current bill is similar to the ones Democrats blocked last month by going to Washington. It would ban 24-hour polling locations, drive-thru voting and give partisan poll watchers more access, among other things.

It was unclear Tuesday how many Democrats remained in Washington. The ranks of the group had dwindled to less than half. Some who stayed behind have publicly fumed at a handful of colleagues who returned to the Legislature. Progressive allies are also pressuring wavering Democrats to hold the line and stay away from the Capitol, even if they come back to Texas.

“You threw us under the bus today! Why?” Dallas Democratic state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos said in a tweet that included a picture of Talarico and other Democrats on the floor of the Texas House.

Democrats had preemptively sought to block the GOP from using law enforcement to compel their attendance. But in another setback, the Texas Supreme Court blocked those efforts Tuesday.

State Rep. Vikki Goodwin, who returned to Texas this week, said she and fellow Democrats have consistently agreed in daily check-ins that they “are committed to quorum break at this time.” She said those who returned did so for personal, professional and political reasons, including helping their districts through COVID-19 surges.

Democratic state Rep. Celia Israel was also back in Austin and said “there is no way” she will return to the Texas House. On Tuesday, she delivered doughnuts to teachers and met with constituents.

“Every day that we can not be on the floor doing business according to Gov. Abbott’s agenda is a good day,” Israel said.

___

Acacia Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The Rev. Paula Stecker, of the Christ the King Lutheran Church, walks in front of a memorial set up...
Associated Press

Colorado governor visits gay club shooting memorial

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday visited the memorial outside a gay club where five people were killed last week, solemnly walking along a line of flowers, crosses and signs bearing the photos and names of the victims outside the building with the club’s owners. When he reached the end, […]
18 hours ago
FILE - An SUV rests inside an Apple store behind a large hole in the glass front of the store on No...
Associated Press

Lawsuits claim negligence in Massachusetts Apple store crash

BOSTON (AP) — The family of a man who was badly hurt when an SUV crashed into an Apple store in Massachusetts, killing one person and injuring 20, sued the company, the driver and the property owners Tuesday in one of the first lawsuits filed over the crash. Matthew Timberger, of Falmouth, suffered broken bones […]
18 hours ago
FILE - This Oct. 7, 2003 file photo shows a closeup of a human brain affected by Alzheimer's diseas...
Associated Press

Drug slows Alzheimer’s but can it make a real difference?

An experimental Alzheimer’s drug modestly slowed the brain disease’s inevitable worsening, researchers reported Tuesday — but it remains unclear how much difference that might make in people’s lives. Japanese drugmaker Eisai and its U.S. partner Biogen had announced earlier this fall that the drug lecanemab appeared to work, a badly needed bright spot after repeated […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Mexico says tourists lost documents in fire on resort island

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tourists and local people escaped unharmed from a large fire that raged in an area of hotels and guest houses on the island of Holbox, at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Mexican officials said Tuesday, Authorities said some tourists lost their documents to the blaze. It was not clear how […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Big tobacco tries to stop California flavored tobacco ban

SAN DIEGO (AP) — R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies filed a request Tuesday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to impose an emergency order to stop California from enforcing a ban on flavored tobacco products that was overwhelmingly approved by voters earlier this month. The ban was first passed by the state legislature two years […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Trump Organization's former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, center, arrives to co...
Associated Press

Key allegations, witnesses as Trump Org. trial winds down

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s inaugural address clocked in at just 16 minutes. Closing arguments that are slated for Thursday in his company’s criminal tax fraud case? Prosecutors and defense lawyers say those could take seven hours or more. Those projections speak to the complexity of the case, which stems from longtime […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
More pressure on Texas Democrats as GOP moves to end holdout