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11 Aug, 2021 12:09

Texan House speaker signs arrest warrant for 52 runaway Democrats after lawmakers fled state to block passage of Republican bill

Texan House speaker signs arrest warrant for 52 runaway Democrats after lawmakers fled state to block passage of Republican bill

A senior Texan lawmaker has signed an arrest warrant for 52 Democrats who fled the state to avoid voting on a controversial Republican bill which cannot be passed into law without the presence of five more lawmakers.

Late on Tuesday evening, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan signed the arrest warrants, understood to be civil not criminal, for 52 Democrat legislators who have avoided their duties in the assembly, according to US news agencies.  

The move came after the Texas Supreme Court gave lawmakers permission to use law enforcement to compel the runaway Democrats to return to the House. According to The Dallas Morning News, the House also voted 80-12 to force the runaway lawmakers to return.

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

In July, the Democrats traveled to Washington, DC to lobby for voting reform and in doing so avoided voting on a controversial GOP election reform bill. President Joe Biden has previously described the Texas voting bill as an “assault on democracy.” He added that the bill is part of a series of measures that are “disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.” 

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More than half of the 52 Democrats have returned to the Lone Star state, but many have elected to stay away from the statehouse. Democrat Ana-Maria Ramos accused her colleagues who attended the house of “throwing them under the bus” in a tweet on Monday.  

The bill’s contents were finalized by Republican leaders and propose several amendments to voting procedure in the state. According to The Texas Tribune, this includes a ban on drive-thru voting, new ID requirements for mail-voting, and bans officials for mailing ballot applications to voters who haven’t requested them. 

The proposed measures are heavily influenced by former President Donald Trump’s accusations of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

On Tuesday, the Republicans were five short of a quorum [the minimum number of members necessary to undertake proceedings] needed to pass the bill.

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