Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan has signed an arrest warrant for one of the runaway Texas Democrats holed up in Washington, D.C., to avoid debating an elections integrity bill back home.
The civil warrant seeks the arrest of Democratic state Rep. Philip Cortez, who made a jaunt to Texas last week and then returned to Washington, according to The Texas Tribune.
The warrant calls for Cortez to be brought to the House. It currently is not enforceable while Cortez is in Washington.
In the standoff between Democrats who vow to block an election integrity measure from passing and Republicans who want it passed, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will keep calling special sessions until Democrats who left the state to ensure the state House could not have a quorum return. The current special session ends Aug. 6.
Cortez said he flew back to Texas in hope of finding “good faith dialogue” on the bill Democrats ran away from.
Upon his return, he declared that such talks “have not produced progress.”
On Monday, Phelan, a Republican, said Cortez “has irrevocably broken my trust and the trust of this chamber.”
— Brad Johnson (@bradj_TX) July 26, 2021
Cortez “represented to me and his fellow members that he wanted to work on policy and find solutions to bring his colleagues back to Texas,” Phelan said.
“As a condition of being granted permission to temporarily leave the House floor, Rep. Cortez promised his House colleagues that he would return,” Phelan said. “Instead, he fled the state.”
Cortez issued his own statement saying he had “a duty to my constituents to do everything I can to stop this harmful legislation.”
“I will continue fighting for my constituents to ensure fair and full access to the ballot box,” he said. “All Texans deserve nothing less.”
Cortez told The Dallas Morning News his trip was to ensure Democratic input in the legislation.
“It’s important that we have multiple tracks on this issue,” he said. “Whether this bill is addressed now or whether it’s addressed in a potential next special session, we need to make sure we have Democratic input.”
I couldn’t have come up with a better parody if I tried, but indeed, this is real.
The Texas Democrats actually think they are in Afghanistan. https://t.co/ND3Jr5G04H
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) July 26, 2021
Texas Democrats have sought to have Democrats who control Congress act to make the Republican-drafted legislation go away by passing a federal elections overhaul bill that is stalled in the Senate.
Democrats have been ridiculed for holding a “super-spreader” event because several Democrats have tested positive for the coronavirus, and according to media reports, passed the virus along to members of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff and White House aides.