Texas Dems remain in D.C. despite COVID-19 outbreak among them

Texas Democrats began their second week of quorum busting in Washington DC, with five fewer members in play

Among those on the quarantine sideline is state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) who announced Sunday he tested positive for COVID-19, even though he was fully vaccinated. The others who have tested negative continued to stay on schedule and held political gatherings despite the viral outbreak.

"You said enough is enough, and you're in DC right now, says a lot," said a panel member to the Texas Democrats.

Those attending the online meeting Monday discussed things like increasing voter turnout by people of color. "And so if they could understand this is a power that they have," said civil rights activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta.

The event, according to party leaders, is an example of how they are following COVID-19 safety protocols. "So we are being really rigorous with our testing regime and overwhelmingly the people on this trip have been safe and secure," said state Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas).

Democrats say they are working on new strategies to bring back to Texas. House Democrat Caucus Chairman Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) made it clear what the endgame was. "The changing face in Texas must continue to be empowered so we can change the leaders in Austin. And change the priorities in Austin," he said.

A week ago, almost 60 Democrats flew out of Austin to break quorum in the special session in order to kill Republican backed voter reform bills. House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) late last week urged them to fly back on a plane he chartered. Monday, a counteroffer was made.

"We invite the Speaker to hop on that plane next time, come to the conference we are having this week. Learn about how we protect the freedom to vote in the State of Texas," said Rep. Anchia, who added he thought the Speaker would learn a lot by coming to their event in DC.

FOX7 contacted the Speaker's Office about the invitation. It wasn’t exactly declined, but the response made it clear the Speaker’s focus remains on the Governor's Special Session Call. In a statement sent to FOX 7, the speaker's spokesperson Enrique Marquez stated:

"Impatient Texans are waiting for the return of House Democrats, to return to the Lone Star State to begin the important work of providing a 13th check to our teachers, providing taxpayer relief, and improving our foster care system."

"Look, enough, enough of this," said state Rep. James White (R-Hillister).

White and other GOP caucus members continue to focus on other items in the Call that will die if not passed before August 7th. White told FOX 7 he considers the constant accusations of racism hurled by Democrats as something hard to walk back from, but he still believes common ground can be found under the Capitol dome.

"So we all need to take a deep breath here, with the conjecture, if we did it on criminal justice reform, we did it on Medicaid eligibility, and we passed other legislation dealing with elections, we can do it, we can still do it, we have so much, much, more to do, that's good for Texas," said White.

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