HOUSTON - A day after dozens of Democratic lawmakers left the state during the special legislative session, Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives authorized finding and bringing back the lawmakers "under warrant of arrest if necessary."
More than 50 of the 67 Texas House Democrats left the state Monday for Washington, D.C. The Democratic exodus would deny the GOP the quorum needed to pass a voting bill.
In Texas, House rules say that any members absent during a quorum call can "be sent for and arrested" by a simple majority vote of those present. The House sergeant-at-arms is empowered to carry this out.
Home-state police can be empowered to round up the AWOL lawmakers and force them to fulfill their legal duty to be present for the legislative session. However, state troopers have no jurisdiction beyond Texas, making it unclear what if any actions would immediately be taken.
With less than 25 days left in the special session, some Democrats say they’re prepared to stay away until then.
This is the second time that Democratic lawmakers have staged a walkout on the voting overhaul, a measure of their fierce opposition to proposals they say will make it harder for young people, people of color and people with disabilities to vote.
The bill in question would ban drive-thru and 24-hour voting, add new ID requirements to absentee ballots, bolster partisan poll watchers, as well as prohibit local election officials from sending mail-in ballot applications unless requested by voters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.