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Roaming Texas Democrats intent on staying in Washington

Posted at 1:39 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 16:04:06-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Texas Democratic lawmakers remain out of the state as they attempt to prevent a quorum in Austin.

The group of 50 delegates left Monday in an effort to block a bill they say restricts voting rights.

They met with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin yesterday to talk about the bill and a federal bill aimed at protecting voting rights.

The For the People Act would supersede any state-level voting laws.

Democrats say they have no plans to return to Texas before the end of the 30-day special session.

“We’ve scratched the surface here and want to continue to make sure that the voting rights of Texans and all people across the country are protected,” said Texas Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso). “Our intention is to not return to Texas for the duration of the special session."

But ​so far, Moody has been stripped of his position as Speaker Pro-Tem of the Texas House in the first major backlash for leaving the state.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) says he will have a plane ready in Washington this weekend to bring the wayward Democrats back to Texas.

House Democrats who left the state say funds raised are paying for the trip to Washington, D.C. But some wonder if they're still being paid a per diem and stipend.

State legislators currently receive $600 a month for holding their positions.

They also get a per diem of an extra $221 for each day a regular or special legislative session is held.

Phelan is demanding the Democrats return their per diem payments.

The chair of the House Democratic Caucus, State Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) says he expects his colleagues will decline the payments at the end of the month when they're issued.