Enough Texas Democrats return to the state house for GOP voting bill to move forward

Three Houston Democrats who returned together just barely made the quorum.
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Texas Democrats on Capitol Hill
Texas Democrats on Capitol Hill
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After nearly six weeks of avoiding the state Capitol, enough Texas House Democrats returned to resume work, which includes the GOP elections bill.

The House barely made quorum on Thursday, with 99 members voted as present and 49 absent, according to The Texas Tribune. The normal 100-member quorum changed to 99 after San Antonio Democrat Leo Pacheco resigned. However, several members marked as 'present' were not physically in the building but had been in the chamber earlier in the session.

San Antonio Republican State Rep. Steve Allison was present even after testing positive for COVID-19 the day before. But he was isolated in a room along the side of the House chamber.

"It's time to get back to the business of the people of Texas," House Speaker Dade Phelan said. "I appreciate every one of you. I'm looking forward to working with you over the coming week or two."

The last three Democrats who returned together to make quorum were Houston representatives Garnet Coleman, Armando Walle and Ana Hernandez, with Walle pushing Coleman in a wheelchair after recently having surgery.

A joint statement from the Houston Democrats said, "We took the fight for voting rights to Washington, D.C. and brought national attention to the partisan push in our state to weaken ballot access. Our efforts were successful and served as the primary catalyst to push Congress to take action on federal voter protection legislation. Now, we continue the fight on the House Floor."

The three Houston representatives joined five other Democrats in breaking with the rest of their party that had prevented quorum by leaving the state and heading to Washington, D.C.

The last three returning Democrats were criticized by some who still have not returned to the state.

"This is how Texas Democrats lose elections," Rep. Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, tweeted.