by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives are planning to flee the state to deny a quorum so the Republicans who control the chamber can’t hold a vote on pending legislation about elections. There are 67 Democratic representatives, and if 51 flee, that will be sufficient to deny a quorum in the 150-seat House.
State legislators fleeing the state is one of the most tiresome and unseemly charades in American politics. It’s for losers, in both the actual and pejorative meaning of the word, and it should offend you whether you agree or disagree with the party that does it.
Legislators only ever flee the state when they know they’re going to lose because they’re in the minority. In other words, they know that the people have rejected them at the ballot box. With 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats in the Texas House, the Democrats know they are going to lose the vote on the pending election bill.
And no, the Republicans’ majority is not from gerrymandering. Eighty-three out of 150 is 55.33 percent of the seats. Republicans won 54.92 percent of the votes in Texas House races in 2020. Almost perfectly proportional.
All this is a bit rich coming from a party that at the national level seems to believe that legislative majorities, no matter how thin, should be able to do whatever they want. The 60-vote threshold for legislation in the U.S. Senate must be abolished, they say, but at the state level, it’s apparently fine to flee the state to prevent an elected majority from passing legislation.
Texas Democrats aren’t the first state legislative caucus to pull these shenanigans. In 2011, the 14 Democratic members of the 33-seat Wisconsin Senate fled to Illinois to prevent Republicans from passing the collective-bargaining reforms championed by Governor Scott Walker. After nearly a month of negotiation with the Democrats, they made clear they weren’t coming back. …