Texas Gov. Abbott vows to arrest Democratic lawmakers who staged walkout

Texas Governor Greg Abbot points at the camera with a stern expression.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott said Democratic lawmakers who fled Texas in a walkout would be arrested.
  • Democrats left en masse on Monday to block conservative bills in a legislative special session.
  • Two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed in Texas.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gov. Greg Abbott promised that Democratic lawmakers who staged a walkout in Texas would be arrested.

Speaking to KVUE on Monday, the two-term Republican criticized Democratic lawmakers who fled en masse to block several conservative bills from passing in a legislative special session.

“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” he said.

Democratic leaders in the Texas House said on Monday that they had flown to Washington, DC, to “refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.”

Under Texas law, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed.

Abbott convened the special session earlier this month to pass a litany of conservative priorities, including legislation targeting voting, abortion access, transgender rights, and critical race theory.

The marquee issue is a restrictive voting bill that Republican lawmakers have sought largely in response to President Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden.

The bill would modify early-voting hours, curb the 24/7 voting centers that were popular with shift workers in Democratic-leaning Harris County in last year’s presidential election, and scrap straight-ticket voting, among other measures.

Democratic state senators on Friday introduced a bill called the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act, named after the revered Black senator, designed to expand access to voting, allowing for online and same-day voter registration, among other measures, according to The Dallas Morning News.

However, the GOP-dominated Legislature is unlikely to take up that bill.

While no Democratic state senators had accompanied their House counterparts to the nation’s capital as of Tuesday, a Democratic official said several senators might travel there, according to The New York Times.

Abbott told KVUE that he would not relent from carrying out his legislative objectives.

The governor said he would “continue to call special session after special session” until Democratic lawmakers are present.

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