As Texas Democrats' exodus is closing in on Day 4, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, is chartering a plane to sit in Washington to bring the absent lawmakers back to the state's special session.
"In an effort to further compel House Democrats to return to the State of Texas, I am chartering a plane that will be on standby in Washington, D.C. on Saturday," Phelan wrote in a statement Thursday.
"I am demanding all of our colleagues in D.C. to contact my staff immediately in order to secure their seat on the plane and return to Austin in order to do the state's business. The State of Texas is waiting."
Democrats fled the state to break the House quorum and votes on election integrity measures in the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. Abbott vows to keep calling special sessions until there is a quorum to pass vital legislation.
Texas state troopers are authorized to find and bring missing legislators back to the Texas Capitol, and Abbott said Democrats risk being arrested once they return to the state.
Republicans continue to report to the Texas Capitol and await the Democrats but are now spending their time blasting their political opponents for leaving the state.
"While these Texas Democrats collect taxpayer money as they ride on private jets to meet with the Washington elite, those who remain in the chamber await their return to begin work on providing our retired teachers a 13th check, protecting our foster kids, and providing taxpayer relief," Phelan told The Associated Press.
Texas Democrats are in Washington and meeting with members of Congress about voting reforms on the national level, which Republicans in Congress have criticized as an attempt at an unconstitutional federal takeover of state authority over elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blasted the Texas Democrats on the Senate floor Wednesday for being in Washington to "snap selfies, bask in the limelight, and beg Senate Democrats to take over Texas' elections."
"State legislators from Texas decided to grab some beer, hop on a private jet, and flee the state in what they are pretending is some great moral crusade," McConnell said, saying "the outrage is completely phony."
Abbott's special 30-day session seeks to pass legislation on increasing border security, teaching critical race theory in public schools, removing the 24-hour polling places that were put in place outside of existing law in the 2020 elections, regulating mail-in balloting and banning well-funded ballot drop-box efforts that were disproportionately placed in heavily Democratic voting districts over Republican areas.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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