As Texas Republican voters continue demanding lawmakers ban Democrats from being put in leadership positions in the state Legislature, the new chairman of the Texas House Democrat Caucus is not ruling out another quorum bust.
Last year, Texas House Democrats infamously fled the state Capitol on a private jet with case of beer and left for Washington, D.C., breaking quorum and bringing the Legislature to a halt for 37 days in order to freeze progress on election integrity legislation in the Texas House.
Despite the outrage expressed by Republican lawmakers at the time, there were ultimately no consequences imposed by House Speaker Dade Phelan or the rest of House leadership.
In a recent interview with the left-wing Texas Observer, San Antonio State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the newly elected chairman of the House Democrat Caucus, said he thought the bust was successful in watering down the legislation.
“[I]f you just look baseline, they changed the freaking legislation. So for those who say we should just sit at our desks and take our medicine, we would have had one of the crappiest voter suppression bills in the country,” said Fischer.
When they returned, the election integrity bill was eventually passed. However, an amendment added in the House lowered the penalty to a misdemeanor. Democrats took this gutting of election law as a win.
After the Senate passed legislation to fix the change at the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, Speaker Dade Phelan refused to bring up the bill, saying he did not want to “relitigate” the issue.
Additionally, those same Democrats who left the state continue to serve as chairmen of committees, where they exercise major power over legislation.
When asked if Democrats would leave the state again, Fischer left the possibility open.
“You know, they have this saying about Fight Club that the first rule to it is that you don’t talk about it. So, I don’t talk about what I’m going to do or what I’m thinking. But you’ll know when the time comes,” said Fischer.
Ending the practice of awarding committee chairmanships to Democrats is a legislative priority for the Republican Party of Texas. Nineteen members so far have indicated they will vote to ban the practice. Current Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, however, has been against a ban and has awarded nearly 40 percent of leadership positions in the chamber to Democrats.
Phelan’s challenger, State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington), however, voted for a ban on Democrat chairs last session.
The vote for speaker of the House will take place when the Legislature reconvenes on January 10. The vote on rules—including a potential ban on Democrat chairs—will take place sometime in the days shortly after.