The Texas House wants Democratic lawmakers to return to Austin, Texas. The House voted on Tuesday to have law enforcement track down the Democratic leaders and return them to Texas in a 76-4 vote.
Out of the 67 Democrats in the House, only 4 were present during the vote, and all of them voted against law enforcement getting involved.
The Democratic legislators went to Washington D.C. to disrupt the voting process in a special legislative session. The House cannot pass bills without two-thirds of its members present. There are a total of 150 members in the House.
“Public pressure is going to get them to return to Texas– I don’t think it will come to them being handcuffed,” Republican Representative Matt Shaheen said.
According to The Hill, Texas law enforcement does not have jurisdiction in the nation’s capital.
“I’m not going to be a hostage that my constituents’ rights might be stripped from them. We have fought too long and too hard in this country,” Texas Representative Senfronia Thompson said on Tuesday.
Governor Greg Abbott threatened to have the lawmakers arrested once they return.
The restrictive voting legislation will limit polling hours, restrict vote by mail, and hinder the way that disabled individuals vote. The special session also involved other measures like banning the delivery of abortion pills, funding for border security, and prohibiting transgender individuals from participating in collegiate sports.
House Democrats believe that the restrictive voting laws will make it difficult for minority groups to vote. The lawmakers plan to stay in Washington D.C. until the end of the special session — August 7, 2021.
“We can’t stay here indefinitely,” said Texas Representative Rhetta Bowers said. “Texas Democrats will use everything in our power to fight back. But we need Congress to act now.”
A White House official says that the Texas lawmakers will meet with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss a federal voting bill.
In May, Democratic lawmakers walked out of the House to prevent restrictive voting legislation from passing. The bill reduced voting hours, limited the ways to vote, and encouraged poll watchers. Governor Abbott shot back at the Democrats by threatening to withhold their pay.