We have a quorum


For the first time in nearly six weeks, enough lawmakers were present in the Texas House on Thursday for the chamber to conduct business — opening the door for the passage of the GOP priority elections bill that prompted Democrats to flee the state in July in an effort to shut down the legislation.


Although the House reached the minimum number of lawmakers to conduct official business Thursday, it’s unclear whether the chamber will be able to maintain those numbers for the duration of the second special session, which ends Sept. 5.

The House’s return to regular order was boosted by the return of several Democrats who had opted to stay away during the first special session. Democrats like Rep. James Talarico of Round Rock; Joe Moody, Art Fierro and Mary Gonzáles of El Paso; and Eddie Lucio III of Brownsville had boosted the chamber’s numbers after holding out during the first special session.

On Wednesday night, Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman told The Dallas Morning News that he would be returning to the chamber, bringing the House one lawmaker closer to the 100 lawmakers it needed to conduct business. When San Antonio Democrat Leo Pacheco’s resignation went into effect Thursday, the quorum requirement dropped to 99 lawmakers. (Pacheco is reportedly resigning to teach public administration at San Antonio College).

Houston Democrats Armando Walle and Ana Hernandez joined Coleman in his return Thursday evening, with Walle pushing a wheelchair for Coleman who’d recently undergone surgery on his leg.

In a joint statement, the three Democrats said they were “proud of the heroic work and commitment” their caucus had shown in breaking quorum.

“We took the fight for voting rights to Washington, D.C. and brought national attention to the partisan push in our state to weaken ballot access. Our efforts were successful and served as the primary catalyst to push Congress to take action on federal voter protection legislation,” the statement read. “Now, we continue the fight on the House Floor.”

The lawmakers pointed to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state, an overwhelmed hospital system and the return of children to school as efforts that the Legislature needed to work on.

“It is time to move past these partisan legislative calls, and to come together to help our state mitigate the effects of the current COVID-19 surge by allowing public health officials to do their jobs, provide critical resources for school districts to conduct virtual learning when necessary, while also ensuring schools are a safe place for in-person instruction, and will not become a series of daily super-spreader events,” the statement said.

Suffice it to say that the reaction I’ve seen from folks on Twitter is not particularly positive to this. I have nothing but respect for Rep. Garnet Coleman, but I don’t understand the thinking here. Maybe it will make more sense in the coming days, but right now you can count me among the puzzled and disbelieving. The Senate has already passed all of Abbott’s bills, so at any time the House will be able to finish the job, and that will more or less be that.

This was going to have to happen sooner or later, it was just a matter of how. I would have preferred it to be a consensus decision, but here we are. There is another voting rights bill queued up in Congress, with our friend Sen. Manchin as a co-sponsor, and while it will get an August vote there’s still no indication that it will get a waiver on the filibuster. Maybe that does pass, and the Texas Dems are cited as an inspiration, and I’ll feel differently. Right now, I’m not sure what was accomplished. The Chron has more.

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6 Responses to We have a quorum

  1. J says:

    I called Garnet Coleman’s office and let them know I was angry about this betrayal. You can too- the number is 512 4630524.

  2. C.L. says:

    You can also contact Coleman through his website. https://garnetcoleman.com/contact/

  3. Kibitzer says:

    Civil Disobedience Video Op Forfeited

    Too bad he didn’t make himself available to be arrested, as suggested by Mr. Hochman with reference to the example set by MLK. The streaming and broadcasting media would have loved it:

    One pol arrested in a wheelchair as previously promised by another pol in a wheelchair.

    The deputized law enforcement would have had occasion to deploy a special ADA-compliant paddy wagon to transport the absentee-arrestee to the Austin chamber after the execution of the warrant in H-Town, Third Ward.

    Might have made for a memorable and teachable moment in Lone Star history short of a reprise of to-the-death last-stand Alamoism (if not excised from future versions of K-12 history books pursuant to legislative enactment).

    Meanwhile, the Southern Center has trial ballooned the concept of “institutional civil disobedience” to the Supremes.

    See here:


  4. Ross says:

    This was inevitable. The Dems made their point, but the reality is there was no way to not show up in Austin sooner or later. We all know that Abbott and his fellow travelers don’t give a single crap about people, they only care about making their big time supporters rich, enabling ever larger contributions to the senior R politicians. In the meantime, the hatred towards the poor, women, kids going to public school, and anyone who isn’t a White Christian will continue.

  5. Pingback: Is it really a quorum? – Off the Kuff

  6. Kibitzer says:


    As reported by the Trib:

    “The three Democrats who returned Thursday — Houston’s Garnet Coleman, Armando Walle and Ana Hernandez — said they were proud of the “heroic work” the House Democratic Caucus had done to fight the bill but would now “continue the fight on the House floor.”

    Walle said he remained “gravely concerned” about the elections bill proposed by Texas Republicans but said that staying away from the chamber longer was not an option. The state is facing another increase in COVID-19 cases, and its hospital systems and schools need help controlling the delta variant, he said. And state lawmakers will have to return to the statehouse again later this year for the decennial redrawing of political maps.”

    1. Fighting on the House floor

    All that’s needed is the presence of enough Democrats to provide a quorum no matter how they will vote. At least that’s the conventional wisdom. So what form will the “fight” take when the Republicans already have the numbers and the detested voting legislation has already been passed by the Senate? Where is the deus ex machina here to deliver us from all that is evil on the special session agenda?

    And no mention even of the need to re-pass the appropriations for the Lege staffers, Budget Board, Library, etc. or making that item of common cross-partisan interest a priority. Which would be a matter of positive constructive Lege action as distinguished from striking the posture of a pretend fight when the floor and door-matting — and the terminal KO — is already a foregone conclusion.

    2. Not an option  

    Nonsense. You always have a choice. Here, to continue the boycott or to break ranks and render the effort futile for all. It takes party unity to be successful. It takes only a few to render the entire caucus effort for naught. If the Republicans are not budging on the content of the objected-to bills, what is in it for the Dem defectors? What are they getting out of it for their collegial collaboration? Shouldn’t the Republicans be giving up something in exchange for being able to proceed with their agenda? Or did they dispense personal favors or promises to induce the crossovers?

    A discomfiting thought here … Did horses get traded by a horde of elephants and a few stray donkeys? One wonders.

    3. The state is facing another increase in COVID-19 cases

    True enough, but how is such surge a valid rationale to congregate and smooze with infected colleagues in the House chamber.

    And how would it be beneficial to enable the GOP-controlled legislature to pass a bill to statutorily prohibit local-government and ISD masking policies in case Abbott’s GA-38 is found unsustainable under the Texas Disaster Act? — The Act that provides for fighting disasters, rather than for disarming and hand-cuffing those gearing up for such fight.

    How does a bill backing up the Governor’s counter-sensical COVID-19 policy help schools control the Delta variant?  

    Or enhance hospital capacity for that matter? 

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