Texas Democrat Rep. Philip Cortez returned to Austin from Washington, D.C. after initially joining nearly 60 other Democrat House members in the nation’s capital to break quorum during the ongoing special legislative session.
“I proudly stood with my democratic colleagues and left Texas to ensure House Bill 3 would not be approved as introduced. A small working group of Democrats decided to begin active discussions here in Austin on improving HB 3 and asked that I return to establish open communication lines,” Cortez said in a statement about his return. “I returned to Texas to try to engage in good faith dialogue about the aspects of the bill that I, and others, think are harmful. We need to fight this battle on parallel tracks in Texas and Washington D.C. with one goal in mind: full and open access to voting for all Texans.”
Republican Rep. Andrew Murr, who authored House Bill 3 praised Cortez’ return and has promised “serious, thoughtful conversations” and “a seat at the table to fight for his district because he is willing to defend their beliefs in the chamber of the Texas House.”
Pressure among breakaway House Democrats is intensifying as the first Democrats begin to return to the state. Rep. Jim Murphy, the chair of the Texas Republican Caucus, revealed Wednesday that there are now 91 of the 100 House members needed to re-establish quorum. However, the special session must end no later than Aug. 6 and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner remains confidence in the delegation’s unity.
“There are clearly more than enough Democratic House members committed to staying out of Austin to stop the Republican efforts to undermine the freedom to vote,” he said.
Texas Democrats still in Washington D.C. have expressed their disappointment over Cortez’ return.
“To be clear, he is not negotiating on our behalf,” tweeted Rep. Gina Hinojosa. “He made the decision to rejoin Republicans without speaking to the Dem delegation.”