Quorum-breaking Texas House Democrats saw a large break in their ranks Monday as over a dozen members returned to the floor, while others remained away in protest over the GOP voting bill.
The development meant that a new high of 113 members were present for the second special session. A quorum in the Texas House is typically 100 members, however, there are currently two unfilled seats which means a quorum is 99 members.
On Thursday, the House made quorum for the first time in nearly six weeks, since Democrats fled to Washington D.C. in July in an attempt to stop the GOP’s priority elections bill. But some Democrats outside the Capitol called it into question, saying there were members marked present who were not physically on the floor.
When the House met Monday evening, House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, announced that a quorum was present, but Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Dripping Springs, requested a vote verifying that. The vote yield a quorum of 100 members, one more than needed.
After that vote, though, 13 New Democrats checked in. The group included the caucus chair, Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie.
The burst of arrivals was not entirely expected. While some Democrats had released statements since Thursday that they were coming back to the Capitol, there were only a handful of them and some did not specify whether they planned to actually return to the floor and contribute to quorum.
If the 113-member attendance count — or something like it — holds up, the House may be on a path to more assuredly resume business after days of uncertainty. However, time is limited, as there is roughly two weeks left in the 30-day special session.
This article was written by PATRICK SVITEK of The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. This article originally appeared at: https://www.texastribune.org/2021/08/23/texas-legislature-house-quorum-democrats/