September 18, 2021

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At the Texas Capitol, a Day for Arrest Warrants, Not Legislation – The New York Times

2 min read

After the vote on Tuesday, Dade Phelan, the speaker of the Texas House, signed the 52 civil arrest warrants to start the roundup. In addition to Mr. Black and his team, members of the Texas Department of Public Safety could also be dispatched throughout the state to go the homes and businesses of the absentee members and escort them back to Austin.

After staying in Washington, D.C., through the first 30-day session, many Democrats are believed to be back in Texas, but they seemed to be poised to continue their resistance against the voting bill and other conservative measures the governor has included in both special sessions.

“Every day the House can’t move forward on these voter bills and other measures is a good day,” said Chris Turner, the Democratic leader, who received his warrant by email. He described the special session as a “30-day campaign commercial” for Mr. Abbott’s re-election campaign, adding, “Right now we’re not interested in participating in it.”

Representative Celia Israel, an Austin real estate agent who was elected to the House in 2014, arrived back in the capital city on Monday night from Washington, aware that she might be considered a fugitive in the eyes of Republicans.

“Today was trash day,” she said. “I took the trash cans out, looked on both sides of the street. The coast was clear.”

Asked if she planned to return to the chamber, she responded with a full-throated “Hell no” and declared: “I didn’t sacrifice my business, my family time and crispy tacos just to go down to walk onto the House floor and help them pander to 5 percent of the electorate.”

She added: “This is a civil matter. I have not committed any crime.”

The move by the Texas House to round up the lawmakers came hours after the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, acting on a petition by Mr. Abbott and Mr. Phelan, overturned an earlier ruling in the matter.

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