Texas House Republicans vote to track down absent Democrats and arrest them

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas House Republicans have approved an arrest warrant to bring House Democrats who fled the state back to the statehouse for the special session.

Tuesday morning, the House returned to work after adjourning for the weekend. They couldn't debate or vote on bills because 57 Democrats didn't show up.

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Republicans were able to approve a measure to compel lawmakers to return to Austin. The arrest warrant tells the sergeant at arms and Texas Department of Public Safety to arrest state representatives who broke quorum and bring them back.

Since Democrats left the state, they can't be arrested until they return to Austin. Not all Democrats left.

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Four of them returned to the chamber Tuesday, including State Rep. Eddie Morales. He told ABC13 that some of them remained behind to make sure integrity was kept in the House.

Even still, the remaining Democrats are being kept in the chamber under lock and key. Morales explained members needed permission to leave for anything, including using the restroom or going to eat.

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Republicans attempted to remove Democrats from leadership roles, including chairman and pro-tem positions, but stopped the measure after realizing removing lawmakers from leadership roles is against the rules adopted by the House.

Another change Tuesday: keys were missing from the chamber desks of those who left. Democrats asked the clerk to remove the keys so no votes could be cast.

The House is at a standstill. Lawmakers cannot debate bills in the chamber, nor hold committee hearings.

The House is at ease, but the Senate is business as usual. Democrats returned to the Senate Tuesday morning. Lawmakers expect to vote on Senate Bill 1, which is the election integrity bill Tuesday afternoon.

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