On Tuesday, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Texas) issued 52 arrest warrants for Democrats in the Texas state government who fled their state for Washington D.C. last month and have not returned to the state House chamber in an effort to block the new voting bill pushed by the Texas Republicans. 

The arrest warrants followed after Texas House Republicans voted, 80-12, a move to order state law enforcement to track down and enforce the return of the absent Democrats to the chamber.

Republican lawmakers in Texas have been advancing two voting bills that would prohibit voting procedures like drive-through voting and 24-hour voting and require a stricter identification process.

After the Democrats fled last month, the Texas House lacked a two-thirds quorum required to vote on the bills. 

In July, Texas House Republicans voted to send state police to track down the 58 Democratic lawmakers who left Austin to block restrictive Republican voting laws from being passed.

Since last month, some Texas Democrats had reluctantly started to return to their state amid the growing push by their Republican counterparts. However, those Democrats who are back in the state aren’t still showing up in the House sessions in order to block the Republicans’ effort on their new voting measures.

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Texas), who is still in D.C., revealed that he has no plan on returning to Texas anytime soon. 

“We’re united in staying away from the House as long as possible,” Rodriguez said in an interview before the warrant was issued. “The court will have to make some kind of decision on whether that’s something that can be done or not.”

Amid the growing movement in the red states to restrict voting rights, national Democrats are supporting Texas Democrats’ decision to flee the state.

“I am grateful to the Texas House Democrats who continue to fight for the voting rights of all Texans. In a democracy, there is nothing more important. Don’t give up the fight,” Beto O’Rourke, the former U.S. House member, tweeted this week.

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