Democrat lawmakers in Texas are reportedly planning to flee the state that they represent in order to avoid the legislature’s special session, NBC reported on Monday afternoon. The Democratic members hope to avoid advancing a Republican-backed voting reform bill by traveling to Washington, D.C. in protest of a special legislative session. Lawmakers already staged a walkout once before this year in protest of common-sense voting measures. Via NBC:
At least 58 Democratic members of the state House of Representatives are expected to bolt from Austin on Monday in an effort to block the measures from advancing, a source familiar with the plans told NBC News. The unusual move, akin to what Democrats did in 2003, would paralyze the chamber, stopping business until the lawmakers return to town or the session ends. The majority of the members plan to fly to Washington, D.C., on two private jets chartered for the occasion and use the time there to rally support for federal voting legislation, the source said. Others will make their own way. The lawmakers risk arrest in taking flight. Under the Texas Constitution, the Legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers be present to conduct state business in either chamber. Absent lawmakers can be legally compelled to return to the Capitol, and the source said Democrats expect state Republicans to ask the Department of Public Safety to track them down. House Democrats already staged one successful walk out to defeat election legislation prioritized by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. (NBC)
The move is aimed to deny Texas Republicans a quorum, though the special legislative session could continue for weeks. The lawmakers are aware that this stunt to flee to Washington, D.C. on chartered jets risks arrest.