AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas House grew closer to achieving a quorum needed to conduct official business, but came up short by five members on Monday, August 9.
Ninety-five House members were in attendance during the second special session, while 100 of the 150 in the House are required for the chamber to consider or debate bills.READ MORE: Severe Weather Threat For North Texas Tuesday Night, Early Wednesday Morning
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said Monday he expects House Democrats will end their quorum break and return to the Capitol after 57 of them flew to Washington, D.C. last month during the first Special Session called by Governor Abbott. “If they’re not coming back then then say so and we can remove them from office and let someone else run for their seat and call a special election. They are coming back. Let’s make no mistake. They’re not moving to Washington, DC or some other state for the rest of their life. They will come back. They have families here. They have jobs here. They have children here. They’re getting calls from their wives and husbands. Hey, honey, it’s time to come back. You know, you made your stand, you made your point, didn’t get very far. You look kind of foolish.”
The Democrats continue to say they want to block the Republicans’ elections integrity bill from passing, as they did at the end of the regular legislative session and the first special session.
Democratic State Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas strongly opposes the elections integrity bill but acknowledges the House will soon have a quorum. “I imagine we’ll make a quorum at some point, it’s just not going to happen immediately. We’re going to keep it day by day. Let’s work on a bipartisan basis because the stuff that’s on the agenda right now is mainly political posturing and red meat for a Republican primary for Governor. The Lt. Governor is committed to try to ramming through the same red meat partisan agenda on behalf of his friend, Greg Abbott.”
On Monday, House members approved a motion by Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, 80-8, for a Call on the House.
Speaker Dade Phelan ordered the chamber doors to be locked, and told lawmakers that they will need written permission from him in order to leave.
After some Texas House members filed suit against Governor Abbott and Speaker Phelan, a Travis County Judge issued an order Sunday that temporarily blocks House members who broke quorum from being arrested.
The House remains at ease and Phelan told lawmakers they need to return 4pm Tuesday.
Lawmakers are now considering changing the quorum rules from a two-thirds super majority now, to a simple majority like 46 other states have.
Senate Joint Resolution 1, SJR 1, would require a change to the Texas Constitution.READ MORE: Some Tenants Say Conditions At Dallas' Highland Hills Apartments Still Unlivable Following Explosion
To do that, two-thirds of lawmakers in the House and Senate must approve it, and then, it would go to the voters.
Governor Abbott placed the issue on the agenda for the second special session.
The Lt. Governor said he supports the change to prevent the current situation from happening.
“What I call it, rule by tyranny, the tyranny of the minority, that you’re the minority party. But if you walk out because you can take advantage of a of an over the top two-thirds rule, you can just shut down government. We can’t have that.”
Representative Anchia disagrees. “It’s not going to pass. And and I’m against it. I think the framers of the Constitution got it right. That there’s a there’s an important mechanism to protect the minority.”
The Senate’s Special Committee on Constitutional Issues approved SJR 1 Monday, 5-0.
It will now go to the full Senate.
As with other legislation, the House won’t be able to consider this bill until it reaches a quorum.
WATCH INTERVIEWS WITH LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK AND REP. RAFAEL ANCHIA