Summary List Placement
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan signed civil arrest warrants on Tuesday evening for 52 House Democrats who have been absent from the state Capitol to block an elections bill they said would harm minority voters.
The signing was confirmed by Phelan’s spokesperson, Enrique Marquez, who said the warrants would be delivered to the House Sergeant-at-Arms on Wednesday morning, according to The Dallas Morning News, which first broke the news.
The missing Democrats won’t face criminal charges or fines, but can be brought to the House chamber by authorities, according to an example of the warrants tweeted by Dallas Morning News statehouse reporter Allie Morris.
— Allie Morris 🌟 (@MorrisReports) August 11, 2021
The representatives have been absent as a means of preventing the Texas House from reaching the two-thirds attendance it needs to decide on a GOP bill that would introduce more restrictions to election laws, like new identification requirements for people voting by mail and a ban on drive-through voting.
Republican representatives said these new restrictions would prevent voter fraud, but civil rights advocates said the measures the new bill would ban had benefited voters of color and shift workers in the 2020 election.
In May, Democrats successfully blocked the same bill using this same method, but House Republicans have moved to reconsider the measure again. This time, the Texas House voted 80-12 to authorize law enforcement to make the Democrats return.
Not all of the absentees have to come back in order for voting on the bill to resume. Based on Tuesday’s attendance, the House just needs four more of its total 150 members to be present so it can be back in business, reported The Dallas Morning News.