Civil arrest warrants issued for holdout Texas Democrats

With a folder filled with civil arrest warrants, Texas House Sergeant at Arms Michael Black began what would be a very long search process on Wednesday. 

The work began a few minutes after House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) declared a recess and put the Chamber at ease. On the 4th day of the Second Special Session, once again there were not enough House members to take up legislation. 

Republicans, like GOP caucus chair Jim Murphy (R-Houston), told FOX 7 this political waiting game has been tough.

"We are ready to work most of us have been here the last five weeks it’s so right now we can’t put the ball in play without a quorum so that is a little frustrating but there still work going on the Senate bills are moving we’re looking at them talking about what we can do with them what committees those bills might prefer those Bills, so those people are ready there’s a lot of preparation work but we can’t kick off," said Murphy.

The Sergeant at Arms began his search for more than 50 hold out Democrats. Warrants were slipped under locked office doors. The doors that did open were answered only by legislative staffers, like at state Rep Senfronia Thompson’s (D-Houston) office.

"As of this morning Representative Thompson has not voluntarily appeared in the House chambers and the speaker has signed the warrant for the representative’s Civil Arrest. Is the representative here in the office today," asked Black.

Rep. Thompson was not there. A similar encounter took place down a Capitol extension hallway. Staff members with the sergeant of arms made a stop at the office of state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D-Richardson).

As the warrants were delivered, state Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) used the situation to solicits donations for his defense. He also made a defiant "not today" social media post. 

Rep. Wu also convinced a Harris County district court judge Wednesday to block the civil warrant. The judge in his ruling declared no legal cause was found by the court to have the state representative restrained and forced to return to Austin. That criminal court ruling is expected to be challenged by the state attorney general.

At the Capitol, state Rep. Murphy was hoping a long legal battle can be avoided. "If we could get our Democratic colleagues here, enough of them, we could get some resources to people, virtually immediately," said Murphy.

That legislative carrot is in the form of billions of dollars in funding for hospitals to help people infected with COVID and cash to launch broader vaccination campaigns, which are part of the Governors special session Call.

However, Democrat leaders have made it clear that as long as the GOP election law reform bills are still on the table, they will not be there under the Capitol dome.

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