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2 TX Dems who fled state are vacationing in Portugal while evading vote, report says

Rep. Julie Johnson (Left). Rep. Jessice González (Right). (Texas State Legislature, photos)
August 04, 2021

Two Democrat Texas state representatives still haven’t returned after fleeing the state to break legislative quorum for a vote on a Republican-backed election bill. Now, the two lawmakers are reportedly taking a vacation in Portugal, a new report says.

The Texas House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday could not account for State Reps. Julie Johnson (D-Farmers Branch) and Jessica González (D-Dallas), the Texas Tribune reported Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Texas Monthly reporter Jonathan Tilove tweeted, “Hi. Covering the TXDEMS in DC for @TexasMonthly. Can confirm @juliejohnsonTX and her wife & @jessicafortexas and her fiancé are in Portugal for a vacation they had been planning, with non-refundable tickets, for a year-and-a-half. Still participating in caucus meetings via ZOOM.”

Neither Johnson nor González, nor their respective staff, responded to requests for comment from The Texas Tribune on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In a text exchange with the San Antonio Express-News, González dismissed the allegation she was vacationing in Portugal, saying “No one has shown proof. These are rumors, period. End of story.”

Reports that Johnson and González are vacationing in Portugal prompted mockery from former U.S. Navy SEAL Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who tweeted, “Please pray for these heroic Texas Democrats as they suffer away from home, in Portugal. Perhaps consider sending them a care package?”

Johnson and González were among the 58 Democrat lawmakers who fled the state during a special legislative session in order to block a vote on Republican election legislation. Their absence denied the necessary quorum to take a vote on the legislation. The Republican legislation seeks to end 24-hour polling places, ban ballot drop boxes and empower partisan poll watchers. The Texas Democrats claim the Republican legislation supports voter suppression tactics.

The Democrats plan to remain in Washington, D.C. until the Texas special legislative session ends on August 6.

The Democrats who fled the state have used their time in D.C. to protest the Texas legislation and to campaign for H.R. 1, a Democrat-led federal voting rights bill that would circumvent state voter identification requirements by requiring states to let people without identification cast ballots if they sign a sworn statement attesting their identity. The bill would further prohibit states from requiring voters to provide identification to obtain an absentee ballot and would block states from imposing “any additional conditions or requirements on the eligibility of the individual to cast the vote in such election by absentee ballot by mail.”

On July 13, those members of the Texas state House who remained in Texas voted 76-4 to deploy law enforcement to track down and arrest those 58 Democrats who fled the state.

Last week, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan issued a civil arrest warrant for state Rep. Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio), after KVUE reported that Cortez returned to Austin only to leave for Washington, D.C., once again in order to avoid arrest.