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Texas House orders arrest of missing Democrats as weekslong stalemate over a voting restrictions bill continues

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House Speaker Dade Phelan on the House floor on Monday. - TEXAS TRIBUNE / JORDAN VONDERHAAR
  • Texas Tribune / Jordan Vonderhaar
  • House Speaker Dade Phelan on the House floor on Monday.
The Texas House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to authorize law enforcement to track down Democrats absent from the chamber and bring them back to the state Capitol, “under warrant of arrest, if necessary.”

The 80-12 vote came hours after the Texas Supreme Court ordered that those missing Democrats, many of whom left the state last month to block a GOP voting bill, could soon be detained by state authorities. The order by the all-GOP court came at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan, fellow Republicans who had asked the court Monday to overturn a ruling from a state district judge that blocked those leaders from ordering the arrest of the quorum-breaking Democrats.

Since the Legislature gaveled in Saturday for its second special session ordered by Abbott, the House has been unable to make a quorum as dozens of Democrats have remained absent from the chamber.

When the House was unable to meet its 100-member threshold for a quorum Monday, members adopted a procedural move known as a “call of the House” in an effort to secure a quorum. That move locks doors to the chamber and prevents members on the floor from leaving unless they have permission in writing from the speaker.

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