Texas Democrats start returning home after restraining order blocking arrests

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Texas House Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to block consideration of a Republican-backed election bill began returning home this week after a district judge granted an order to ‘temporary ban preventing Governor Greg Abbott from ordering their arrest.

Democratic state representative James Talarico was among the first to announce his return to Texas after state district court judge Brad Urrutia granted the restraining order. Texas Democratic lawmakers are in the midst of a weeks-long standoff with Abbott after their trip to Washington DC, breaking the quorum for the extraordinary legislative session the governor called in an attempt to force consideration of the bill.

“Our quorum break has shone the national spotlight on the Texas Voter Suppression Bill and pushed Congress to move closer to passing a federal voting rights law to overturn it,” Talarico wrote on Twitter. “I’m confident they will. Now I’m back to clean up Greg Abbott’s last mess from COVID to ERCOT.”

The judge’s order bars Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, from “detaining, confining or otherwise restraining” Democratic state lawmakers, the Texas Tribune reported. The initial prohibition order expires after 14 days, although it can be extended.

GOVERNMENT OF TEXAS. ABBOTT WILL NOT IMPOSE CLOSURE, MANDATE MASK AMID DELTA VARIANT FEARS

Some of Texas Democrats have indicated they will stay in Washington DC to continue pushing for federal voting legislation. State Representative Ron Reynolds told the Houston Chronicle that about two dozen were still in Washington on Monday.

Last month, Abbott told Fox News lawmakers who left the state to block consideration of the bill would be arrested “upon their return.” The governor of Texas has also pledged to call special sessions until election legislation is reviewed. A second special session started on Saturday.

Some Texas Democrats have criticized members of their party who chose to participate in the special session.

Representative Gina Hinojosa, one of the lawmakers named as the complainant in the restraining order motion, identified four Democrats who attended Monday’s session.

“There is still not a quorum. Pray that no other Democrats voluntarily go to the prosecution,” Hinojosa said.

“There is currently an injunction preventing TX from arresting Democrats, but those Democrats present today have chosen to participate in the removal of voters,” said Representative Ana-Maria Ramos, another complainant.

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The House needs 100 members present to achieve a quorum. The room did not meet the required threshold on Monday.

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