The Republican Party of Texas is doubling down on its calls to penalize Democrat lawmakers who fled Austin for Washington, D.C., to break quorum and freeze the legislative process this summer—even as leadership in the Texas House appears unwilling to do so.
On Monday, flanked by grassroots leaders and a group of Republican lawmakers, Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi championed a resolution calling for the removal of “derelict Democrat legislators” passed by the State Republican Executive Committee over the weekend, which calls for all of the quorum-busting Democrats to be removed from leadership positions in the chamber.
That resolution passed unanimously.
“I want to be clear: I have never seen an issue that so firmly unites Republicans across the political spectrum as this one does,” said Rinaldi, pointing to calls for fleeing Democrats to be removed from leadership by Gov. Greg Abbott, his Republican primary challengers, Texas Young Republicans, and College Republicans.
House Resolution 72 filed by State Rep. Cody Vasut (R–Angleton) would ensure that penalties could be applied to those members—including stripping chairmanships, fining the members, and taking away their seniority privileges such as preferred offices and parking spots.
Though the resolution was referred to the House Administration Committee a week ago, the proposal has not been prioritized by Speaker Dade Phelan and his leadership team. Instead, they held a hearing for a different resolution on Saturday that would only deter future quorum breaks going forward, but would not punish those who kept the process frozen for nearly two months.
“While the Republican Party of Texas welcomes a resolution that would apply to future quorum breaks, it is imperative that the House not excuse the shameless, disruptive, and costly actions of the Democrats over the past month and a half when they abandoned Texas in order to prevent free and fair elections.”
Lawmakers had the opportunity to amend the House rules at the beginning of the year to prohibit Democrats from chairing committees, but it was soundly defeated.