One month ago, the Texas Senate passed a bill that strengthened chemical abortion regulations and every policy included in Governor Greg Abbott’s special session agenda. Now, the Senators are repeating that process once more, with bills churning out of the Senate chamber in rapid succession. The complication arises when those bills cross the Capitol and land in the Texas House, where legislative deliberation has halted in the face of fugitive Democrats. But most Texans are no longer amused by this exercise in political theater; House Republicans must extinguish this silliness posthaste and follow the Senate’s lead.
The Texas House of Representatives is composed of 150 members representing communities across the state. Of those 150 members, 100 must be present for the House to take any official legislative action. Without 100 present members —the two-thirds required for a quorum—the House grinds to a halt. The speaker cannot refer bills. Committees cannot hold hearings or move bills. Debate and votes on the floor immediately cease. The Texas House is frozen.
Though the House might not be at a standstill, there is still much work to be done. Because the Legislature is in regular session only during the spring of every odd-numbered year, many Texas legislators normally find themselves between Cozumel and Casablanca this time of year. However, the governor may call additional special sessions to address problems left unresolved, which is exactly what Governor Abbott did—twice. His agenda for the second special session includes 17 policy items, among which is legislation that will strengthen Texas’ regulations of chemical abortion.
Although this policy does not ban any abortions (a critical feature of Pro-Life bills for Texas Right to Life), the bill addresses a pressing issue. The Biden administration has already lifted federal safety protocols for chemical abortion, thereby weakening our own state chemical abortion laws, which are tethered to the federal requirements. Any pro-abortion Democrat in the Oval Office is a threat to federal Pro-Life laws and regulations, so severing the ties between Texas law and the federal government is prudent. Moreover, the abortion industry continues to promote chemical abortion with increasing militancy, thus Texas must bolster our regulations thereof. Senate Bill 4 by Senator Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville), accomplishing just this, has already passed the Senate three times, including twice during special sessions.
Conversely, the Texas House has never debated or passed this policy. A few weeks ago, during the first special session, most House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C., to protest and block another conservative bill. This abdication of responsibility was met with glowing media profiles and lackluster appearances on cable news. While Washington appeared to grow on them, their spotlight waned. Many are now bunkering at home. A few have returned to work. And others have moved on to vacation in Europe, the Caribbean, and beyond. (Why should citizens’ business interrupt their summer holiday?) Meanwhile, the Texas House is at a standstill.
The Democrat blockade will not last forever. Governor Abbott has promised to continue to call special sessions until the Legislature passes his agenda. More Democrats trickle onto the House floor each day. And elections—which necessitate campaigning and the like—will eventually approach and force missing legislators to return. The reckoning will come. Whether this week or next, this month or next, this year or next, the Pro-Life bill on chemical abortion will become law. The lone mystery is how many times the Senate must pass the bill before then.
Hopefully, the answer is no more. Speaker of the Texas House Dade Phelan and House Republicans are asking state law enforcement to wrangle runaway Democrats and compel their attendance. Good. They must follow through so the House can start passing bills. Enough with the nonsense. Get back to Austin. Get to work.