Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, on Wednesday, July 14, told the state’s Democratic lawmakers who fled to Washington D.C. and intentionally avoided doing their job to return their pay that costs the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Texas Democrats currently in Washington continue to collect their legislative per diem of $221 during regular and special sessions, which equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars during the course of this special session,” Phelan said in a statement.
“Those who are intentionally denying quorum should return their per diem to the State Treasury immediately upon receipt,” he added.
In a tweet released earlier, the speaker said, “We await the return of our colleagues to work on providing retired teachers a 13th check, protecting foster kids, defending taxpayers, and ensuring dangerous criminals aren’t allowed lenient bail.”
A calculation from Rep. Jared Patterson shows that the state’s House Democrats are costing taxpayers $43,330 a day.
According to Fox News, at least 51 of Texas’ 67 House Democrats on Monday fled the state to Washington D.C. in a private plane in efforts to prevent a quorum and stall the passage of a voting reform bill. Another nine of the state’s Senate Democrats are believed to have joined the House members in the nation’s capital.
As a result, the Texas House could not pass the election integrity bill under the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott. However, a quorum was maintained in the Senate with 22 of its 31 members present, allowing the chamber to pass the parallel bill on Tuesday.
Following the Democratic walkout, Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Dist. 4) blasted those Democrats as choosing Washington D.C. over Texas.
“We don’t cut and run, and we don’t walk off the field. We work for Texans. This morning I joined my Republican colleagues to discuss critical work we have done in the Texas Senate this week. Democrats chose DC over Texas,” he tweeted.
In D.C., Texas Democrats met with President Joe Biden and encouraged Congress to pass federal legislation barring increased voter regulations under the “For the People Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Fox News reported.
Some Democrats claimed that they are even working harder in Washington.
“We’re doing our jobs. We’re working harder doing what we’re doing right now than we would be if we had stayed in the chamber to watch them run through a voter suppression bill on a party-line vote,” state Rep. Chris Turner told Fox News on Tuesday.
But Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled a special session that requires their legislators to show up in Texas to address several bills, including election reforms. The special session, called on July 8, is set to last for 30 days.
The governor has pledged to arrest those Democratic fugitives and take them to the legislature to do their job as soon as they set foot back in Texas.