"A quorum cannot be present," declared Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan. The chamber was then closed for recess until Monday.
Last month, more than 50 Democrats fled to Washington. However, it is not clear where they are. Democrats announced Saturday that 26 of them would be "part of an active presence at Washington for as long Congress is working."
There were signs that the impasse may be breaking. Two of the Democrats who left Austin last month have returned to Austin, and one of them suggested that enough of his fellow Democrats may be returning to Austin to ensure a quorum next Wednesday. And, notably, Republicans did not invoke a procedural move that would give Phelan the authority to sign arrest warrants for missing lawmakers, as they did when the Democrats left town.
Democratic state Rep. Eddie Lucio III stated that those who may return to the States were feeling the pull from professional and personal demands.
Lucio III stated, "I was encouraged by the fact that the baton will be carried at the federal level by my Washington colleagues,"
Republican state. Chairman of the House Republican Caucus Jim Murphy believed more Democrats would return to the House in the coming days.
He said, "People are talking about their friends and we believe we're going see quite a lot more."
Saturday's absence was not limited to Democrats. Six Republicans also attended, including one who tested positive for COVID-19.
The Democratic leaders did not commit to remaining in the session for the full 30-day period. This left the possibility of enough Democrats returning to the table to end the standoff. Republicans want to advance an overhaul of elections in Texas under legislation that largely remains the same despite the months of walkouts and protests by Democratic lawmakers.
Texas would ban drive-thru voting, 24-hour polling places and allow partisan poll watchers greater access to the bill that Republicans were close to passing in May. But that effort was foiled by Democrats abruptly leaving the Capitol in a late-night walkout.
Democrats made a bigger gambit -- by decamping to Washington on chartered jets -- to run out the clock on the GOP's second try. Democrats had hoped that they could exert pressure on President Joe Biden to pass federal voting rights legislation. However, a Senate Republican filibuster continues blocking such a measure.
Jasmine Crockett (Democrat), one of the remaining state representatives, stated that she would be disappointed if not enough of her fellow lawmakers returned to give Republicans a quorum on next week. She stated that their group isn't "naive" as they know they don't possess the votes to prevent passage of any bill in Texas. However, they still hope for movement in Congress.
"I won't give up on anything. Crockett stated, "I'm not going to go home until the fat lady sings."
Biden has never met with Texas Democrats in Washington. The group was quickly forced to change some plans after several of their members tested positive for COVID-19. Two Democratic lawmakers were reported to have escaped to Europe, generating negative headlines that drew mockery from Republicans back at home.
There has been a recent sharp surge in COVID-19 infections in Texas, where the number of people hospitalized with the virus stands at more than 8,500 patients, the highest number since February. Abbott insists that Texas will not impose pandemic restrictions on mask mandates. He has also banned schools from requiring facial coverings. Many of the state’s 5 million students will be returning to school this month.