Texas House reaches quorum, ending 38-day holdout

Visitors take photos in the rotunda at the Texas Capitol, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Officers of the Texas House of Representatives delivered civil arrest warrants for more than 50 absent Democrats on Wednesday as frustrated Republicans ratcheted up efforts to end a standoff over a sweeping elections bill that stretched into its 31st day. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Visitors take photos in the rotunda at the Texas Capitol, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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UPDATED 6:25 PM PT – Friday, August 20, 2021

The Texas House of Representatives has reached a quorum for the first time since July 12 when at least 57 state House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C. in order to stop a GOP backed election security bill. Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan declared that the required two-thirds of the total legislators had been reached Thursday night, allowing lawmakers to begin voting again.

Three Democrat representatives returned for the second special session including Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle, while 49 other Democrats were absent. Their return for Thursday’s special session comes after the Texas Supreme Court ordered the withdrawal of a district court’s order on Tuesday, which temporarily protected Democrat lawmakers from arrest.

Yet, most Democrats like Rep. Ron Reynolds remained in Washington in defiance of arrest warrants issued by Speaker Phelan. “I’m extremely disappointed they went back to make quorum,” said Reynolds. “It was not what was informed or communicated with our House Democratic Caucus.”

Coleman was absent at the end of the regular session in July after having his leg amputated due to an infection and didn’t travel with Democrat colleagues to Washington, yet voiced support for their protest. Coleman has since expressed regret for his role in dividing the Texas House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Phelan praised Rep. Coleman for his dedication and courage to return to the House. Thursday’s quorum was announced in the evening with Phelan saying it’s time to get back to the business of the people of Texas.

In the meantime, Republicans have been working quickly to schedule a hearing on the elections integrity bill for Saturday.

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