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Texas Issues First Arrest Warrant For Dem Lawmaker Who Fled State To Block New Bill

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Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan just issued a civil arrest warrant for Rep. Philip Cortez (D). Cortez returned to Texas from D.C. last week to discuss the voter suppression bills. After negotiations failed, Cortez went back to D.C. on Sunday. 

Phelan said that Cortez “has irrevocably broken my trust and the trust of this chamber” after the Texas Democrat “represented to me and his fellow members that he wanted to work on policy and find solutions to bring his colleagues back to Texas.”

“As a condition of being granted permission to temporarily leave the House floor, Rep. Cortez promised his House colleagues that he would return,” the speaker said. “Instead, he fled the state.”

Cortez said: “Last week I went back to Texas with a goal of improving the restrictive elections bill. After discussions with Republican leadership didn’t yield any substantive results, I have rejoined my Democratic colleagues in Washington D.C. to continue this fight on this front.

“And to me, this is in no way caving into any pressure. This is about ensuring that when the bill comes before the Texas House, because it will come whether it’s in this special session, or the next one that the governor is going to call in early August for another 30 days, we’re going to have to face this bill sooner or later, it’s best that we can fix it as best as we can now that we have a seat at the negotiating table at the compromise table,” he said when he returned to Texas to try to make a deal.

From KSAT:

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, signed a civil warrant for the arrest of state Rep. Philip Cortez, a San Antonio Democrat who rejoined his colleagues in Washington, D.C., on Sunday to help prevent the passage of a GOP-backed election bill.

The warrant is not likely to have impact since Texas law enforcement lacks jurisdiction outside the state. It is the first one signed by the speaker since more than 50 House Democrats left the state to block Republicans from having the quorum needed to pass legislation during the special legislative session that began earlier this month.

Last week, Cortez returned to Austin from Washington in what he said was an attempt to engage in “good faith dialogue” about House Bill 3, the election legislation. Other Democrats criticized Cortez’s move, saying the lawmaker did not first consult with them before returning to Austin.

By Sunday though, Cortez was back in Washington, saying in a statement that talks with lawmakers in Austin on negotiating the legislation “have not produced progress.”