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TX Gov. Abbott vows to arrest 58 Dem legislators who fled state in private jets to block voter reform bill

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on June 22, 2020. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)
July 13, 2021

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed Monday to arrest 58 Democrat state lawmakers who fled the state in private jets in an effort to block election integrity legislation.  

“Isn’t this the most un-Texan thing you’ve ever heard — Texans running from a fight? They’re quitters,” Abbott said to host Laura Ingraham on Fox News Monday.

“Once they step back into the state they will be arrested and brought back to the Capitol and we will be conducting business,” the governor added.  

The 58 Democrat members of the Texas House of Representatives boarded two private flights to Washington, D.C. on Monday to stop the state’s legislature from passing election reform, as well as to pressure Congress and President Joe Biden’s administration to pass federal voting laws.

Without the Democrats, the House lacks a quorum and therefore cannot vote on any legislation. It is the second time in just months that the state Democrats have prevented a quorum. On May 30, they walked out of the legislative session hours before an anticipated vote.

“Smiling House Dems fly off to DC on a private jet with a case of Miller Lite, breaking House quorum, abandoning their constituents, while the Senate still works,” Dan Patrick, Lt. Gov. of Texas, tweeted. “It’s my hope that Senate Dems report tomorrow to do what they were elected to do. We will vote on #SB1. #txlege.”

Also in May, Abbott said he will call for an additional special legislative session.

“We have special sessions that last 30 days,” Abbott said. “And the governor calls them, and I will continue calling special session after special session because over time it is going to continue until they step up to vote.”

According to Texas House rules, lawmakers can vote to lock chamber doors to stop reps from leaving, as well as order law enforcement to find and arrest members who have already left.

The Republican-backed legislation seeks to end 24-hour polling places, ban ballot drop boxes and empower partisan poll watchers, which Democrats claim are voter suppression tactics.

The Democrat lawmakers who chose to flee were slammed by other Texas lawmakers on Twitter.

“Enjoy the all expenses paid charter jet and vacation in DC. But you really should be earning your taxpayer provided income rather than running and hiding,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said the Democrats were “pathetic.”

“Hard to imagine a more delusional group of people – thinking that lying about these bills, hopping on a chartered flight, sipping beer, and skipping work is ‘sacrifice,’” Crenshaw tweeted. “You guys are pathetic. Totally pathetic.”

“These delinquents are doing this to kill a bill that does things like make voting hours across counties the same,” Crenshaw continued in a separate tweet. “There isn’t a single thing in these bills that is “voter suppression.” This a giant charade. Texans should be furious, and vote all of these children out of office.”