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The Texas House Democratic Caucus could not report on Tuesday on two of the members who broke the quorum and fled to Washington, DC over the Republicans’ Priority Election Bill, while a reporter from Texas Monthly said the members were on vacation in Portugal.
State officials Julie Johnson of Farmers Branch and Jessica González of Dallas were not with other House Democrats in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the situation. Tuesday night, Texas Monthly reporter Jonathan Tilove tweeted that he “can confirm [Johnson] and his wife & [González] and her fiancé are in Portugal for a vacation they had been planning, with non-refundable tickets, for a year and a half. “
Johnson and González, along with their staff, did not respond to requests for comment from the Texas Tribune on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
Their absence from Washington does not affect the lack of quorum the House has in Austin to pass the Elections Bill. But it flies in the face of House Democrats’ insistence on using their time away from the state legislature, which they left in July, to advocate for federal government legislation. voting rights in the nation’s capital.
González is a particularly important player in the fight for voting rights as vice chairman of the Texas House Elections Committee.
While it was reported that Johnson and González “were still attending caucus meetings via ZOOM,” news of their absence came on the same day that more than 100 state lawmakers from across the country came to Washington for a rally in support of Texas Democrats. It’s the last week of the Austin Special Session.
The news of the Democrats’ vacation sparked a wave of condemnation from fellow Republicans stuck in Austin awaiting their return.
“Wow, just wow. Had to cancel my family’s vacation last week in Grand Teton [National Park] because of a special session they helped create in May ”, tweeted State Representative Tom Oliverson of Cypress, referring to the Democratic walkout from the House that killed the Elections Bill in the regular session. “Texas deserves better than this.”
Hours before it became known that Johnson and González were missing in Washington, three of their fellow Democrats held a press conference in which they continued to express their optimism about the federal election campaign.
“We’re focused squarely on getting these pieces in motion,” said State Representative Joe Moody of El Paso. “I think we’re going to be very successful this week.”
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