The state’s top Republican leaders have not yet publicly commented on a potential quorum break by House Democrats, leaving uncertain what action if any will be taken if members of the state’s minority party end up leaving the state in an attempt to block the GOP-backed election legislation.
The office of House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican who oversees the lower chamber, had not responded to a request for comment as of Tuesday afternoon. Neither had spokespeople for Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Under House rules, Phelan can order the chamber doors to be locked or direct law enforcement to go after lawmakers who have already left the House if enough members support it. If a quorum is not present when the lower chamber convenes Tuesday, House members can move to make what’s known as a call of the House. That motion must then be seconded by 15 members and ordered by a majority vote.
It’s less clear what options the chamber may have if Democrats are outside the state.
Previously, Phelan has said he would not order the locking of chamber doors or the arresting of House members — a position that prompted criticism from Patrick, who said the speaker needed to take a harder line against Democrats.
More recently, Phelan has suggested that all options could be on the table if Democrats attempted a second quorum break during the special session.
“My Democratic colleagues have been quoted saying all options are on the table” with the voting bill, Phelan told KXAN-TV before the special session started. “Respectfully, all options are on the table for myself as well.” — Cassi Pollock