Two more Texas Democrats have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total number of afflicted members to five, according to a new report.
Following reports of the first three cases on Saturday, precautionary testing revealed two additional members, both of whom were fully vaccinated, had contracted the disease, according to a press release by the Texas House Democratic Caucus. The members are “feeling good, with no symptoms or only mild symptoms,” the THDC added.
“This morning, I received a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen result,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who identified himself as one of the two members who was diagnosed Sunday, tweeted. “I am fully vaccinated, and had tested negative on Friday and Saturday. I am quarantining until I test negative, and I am grateful to be only experiencing extremely mild symptoms.”
Fischer said the Democrats knew their decision to flee the state was a “tactic [that] would come with real personal sacrifice,” but the mass exodus was necessary for protecting democracy.
“Just as these new variants sweeping the country are more aggressive than ever, the wave of anti-voter legislation in this country is worse than we’ve seen in generations,” he continued. “That’s why, I will continue the fight for voting rights with every single fiber of my being. I will be tele-working with my colleagues, staff, partners, and allies. … Democracy is in jeopardy, and we will not be stopped in our fight to protect it.”
Earlier Sunday afternoon, the group announced plans to hold a weeklong virtual voting rights conference in Washington, underscoring the caucus’s mission of deterring passage of voting legislation making its way through the Texas state Legislature.
On Monday, at least 51 state lawmakers headed to Washington to stonewall the passage of the state’s Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3, a pair of bills that would ban drive-thru voting, implement more comprehensive voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots, and prohibit officials from sending voting applications to those who did not request them. They also lobbied Congress in support of the For the People Act, a sweeping election overhaul supported by congressional Democrats, as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
After nearly a week’s worth of events in the nation’s capital, it was reported on Saturday that three of the Democratic lawmakers, who fled Texas last week and were photographed smiling without masks as they flew on chartered flights en route to Washington, contracted COVID-19, despite all three being fully vaccinated against the disease.
THDC Chairman Chris Turner said the caucus is “following all [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance and protocols.”
Symone Sanders, a representative for Vice President Kamala Harris, confirmed that the vice president met with two of the three members diagnosed Saturday but said she was deemed not to be at high risk of contracting the disease.
Sunday morning, Harris checked into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for what the White House said was a “routine doctor’s appointment,” according to multiple outlets.
Under the Texas Constitution, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present to conduct business, and those who evade the task may be legally required to return.
Republicans in the Lone Star State have vowed to hold Democrats accountable for fleeing the state. Gov. Greg Abbott, who called a special session expiring on Aug. 7 to pass the voting legislation, said that the lawmakers “will be arrested and brought to the Texas Capitol” upon their return to Texas, a stance affirmed by Republicans in the Texas House, who voted on Tuesday to send law enforcement to hunt down the nearly 60 Democratic legislators who fled the state.
Democrats have praised the lawmakers’ efforts to starve Republicans of the quorum needed to vote on the bills, with President Joe Biden applauding the group’s “courage.”
The tactic of fleeing a state to deny congressional bodies of quorums has been employed by state lawmakers in Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Oregon. Few of these walkouts achieved the desired results.
Author : Carly Roman