Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan issued his first civil arrest warrant for a Democrat that left the state to break quorum and prevent an election bill from moving forward.
The story: Phelan issued the civil warrant for Rep. Philip Cortez of San Antonio after the lawmaker returned from Washington D.C. to Texas and rejoined his Democrat colleagues, who are still in Washington.
Why? In a statement Monday, the Texas House Speaker said Cortez broke an oral commitment as he was given special permission to leave the House, on the condition that he would return.
“Rep. Cortez returned to the Texas Capitol of his own volition and represented to me and his fellow members that he wanted to work on policy and find solutions to bring his colleagues back to Texas,” Phelan said.
“As a condition of being granted permission to temporarily leave the House floor, Rep. Cortez promised his House colleagues that he would return. Instead, he fled the state and has irrevocably broken my trust and the trust of this chamber,” the House Speaker said.
The arrest warrant does not extend beyond Texas’ borders. If he returns to Texas, officials with the Department of Public Safety officers could detain him and bring him back to the Capitol.
Worth noting: Cortez came back to Texas last week in an attempt to negotiate the election legislation with House Republicans. However, on Sunday, he announced in a statement that he was back in Washington because talks with GOP members “have not produced progress.”
“There was not any positive progress in terms of being able to move forward and improve the bill or improve the language of the bill, and upon seeing that, I decided to return back to D.C. and join my colleagues,” he said in the statement.
Cortez’s response to the civil arrest warrant: “I owe a duty to my constituents to do everything I can to stop this harmful legislation. I will continue fighting for my constituents to ensure fair and full access to the ballot box. All Texans deserve nothing less,” Cortez said.
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner backed Cortez in a statement.
“In the Texas House Democratic Caucus, our unity is our strength. We welcome Rep. Phil Cortez, who is a valued member of our Caucus, back to Washington, D.C. with open arms. All 57 Democrats breaking quorum are just as firm in our commitment to seeing this through until the end as we were the day we left. We are united and unrelenting in our commitment to protect the freedom to vote,” Turner said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has previously said that Democrats who left the state would be arrested once they come back.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.