AUSTIN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As Texas democratic lawmakers continue their stay in Washington D.C, breaking quorum and stalling legislation from moving forward in the special session, one among them now has a warrant out for his arrest.
Representative Philip Cortez (D) of San Antonio returned to D.C. over the weekend, after briefly turning to Austin in what he described as an effort to improve House Bill 3. However, “after discussions on improving House Bill 3 have not produced progress,” Rep. Cortez said he rejoined the Texas House Democrats breaking quorum.
Confirmed by the Texas House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Cortez said, “I stand firm in my resolve to remain with the Democratic Caucus until the special session ends, and to do whatever it takes to fight for the freedom to vote for all Texans.”
More than 50 Texas House Democrats are in the nation’s capitol an effort to block Republicans from enacting new voting restrictions. Texas law requires at least two-thirds of lawmakers to be present during a legislative session, so the absence of more than 50 state Democrats has prevented business.
State Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas) said the two embattled bills add new identification requirements for mail-in voting, ban some early-voting options and create new criminal penalties for breaking election code, while empowering partisan poll watchers.
Speaker Dade Phelan (R) issued a statement on Rep. Cortez’s departure back to Washington D.C., released by his office, “Rep. Cortez returned to the Texas Capitol of his own volition and represented to me and his fellow members that he wanted to work on policy and find solutions to bring his colleagues back to Texas. As a condition of being granted permission to temporarily leave the House floor, Rep. Cortez promised his House colleagues that he would return. Instead, he fled the state and has irrevocably broken my trust and the trust of this chamber.”
Speaker Phelan signed a civil warrant for Rep. Cortez’s arrest on Sunday, according to his office. However, the arrest cannot be enforced since the representative is already outside of Texas.