AUSTIN, Texas - After almost 40 days, it’s back to the home office for many Texas House Democrats.
"We went to D.C. with a mission to tell our story," said State Rep. Erin Zwiener, who returned to the Capitol on Friday. "It was clear to me that it was time to pass the baton to activists and folks from other states and was also clear to me the momentum was there."
On Thursday, three additional House Democrats returned to Austin, allowing the House to meet quorum. The return came about a week after House Speaker Dade Phelan issued civil arrest warrants for absent Democrats.
Rep. Zwiener was pleased with what she and her colleagues had accomplished while in Washington D.C.
"We are expecting a vote early next week on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and I’m optimistic that by the end of the year, both that law and the For the People Act, will have passed both chambers of Congress and be on their way to the President’s desk," said Rep. Zwiener.
Meanwhile, voting legislation in Texas, that motivated the Democrats’ original departure, is still on the table.
"The Democrats are acting like a prohibition of drive-thru voting at 3 o’clock in the morning is a reenactment of Jim Crow, it’s absolutely absurd," said Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. "What this bill does is it makes it easy to vote, harder to cheat, and preserves the integrity of our election process."
Rinaldi called the move by Democrats a political stunt with no end game.
"I'm encouraged that we finally have quorum," said Rinaldi. "I hope we keep it over the weekend and we get to address the issues like election integrity, property taxes, and other issues that Texans care about."
However, some Democrats are not pleased with their own colleagues. More than 30 of them released a joint statement expressing disappointment in those that returned. They also claimed that Republicans "ghost voted" for Democrats that weren’t physically present.
"We are disappointed that a few Democrats chose to return to the floor. We feel betrayed and heartbroken, but our resolve is strong and this fight is not over," said the statement in part. "With their questionable quorum, Republicans are now fully enabled and empowered to enact virtually all of Abbott’s directives, including many dangerous pieces of legislation that will fundamentally hurt the lives of Texans. We know what we are dealing with; Republicans will lie about the number of legislators present at the Capitol to establish quorum, keep Texans in the dark, and bend the rules to get their way."
Austin-area Rep. Gina Hinojosa, whose name was listed on the joint statement, said in a tweet on Sunday that she would not be on the floor Monday for a "fake quorum."
On August 10, House Speaker Dade Phelan issued 52 civil arrest warrants for Democrats that remained in D.C. A Harris County judge issued an order to protect Democrats from being arrested, but the Texas Supreme Court overruled that order.