87th LegislatureState HouseQuorum-Breaking Democrat Donates $10,000 Per Diem to Planned Parenthood

The Texas Democrat is giving all of her pay from the special sessions that she largely missed to a Planned Parenthood facility in Denton County.
September 14, 2021
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Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), one of the Texas House Democrats who fled to Washington D.C. to break quorum in an attempt to block the GOP’s election reform bill, announced that she will be donating the payments she received from the state legislature over the past two special sessions to Planned Parenthood.

“If the recent Republican attacks on women’s healthcare have shown us anything, it is that now, more than ever, is the time to act and support those doing the most good for women’s reproductive rights and healthcare,” said Beckley in a press release.

“Therefore, I will be donating $10,076.89, my per diem from the 1st and 2nd Special Session received as a member of the Texas House of Representatives, to Planned Parenthood of Denton County in order to do my part to support their efforts to keep Texas women healthy.”

Lawmakers receive a “per diem” payment of $221 per day of each session as a payment for their services in the legislature.

In total, about $750,000 of taxpayer funds went to Democrats who participated in the quorum bust instead of participating in their legislative duties in Austin.

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Though some Democrats who left their posts in the attempt to block the election bill pledged to return their per diem payment, records show that only a few did so.

Some House Republicans sought to punish the quorum breakers by stripping chairmanships and implementing fines for similar situations in the future, but those proposals did not get approved by the end of the last special session. 

Beckley’s announcement that she’ll be donating the taxpayer funds that she received to a Planned Parenthood facility in North Texas comes amidst controversy over the state’s “Heartbeat Act,” which went into effect at the beginning of September.

That legislation made it illegal to abort a child in Texas when a heartbeat can be detected, though the policy is enforced by allowing anyone in the state to sue those other than the mother who assist in the illegal abortion.

The bill was approved by Texas lawmakers in May, mostly along party lines.

Though most Democrats including Beckley voted against the bill, no effort was made to stop it from becoming law through a quorum bust like the House Democrats tried with the election bill.

Planned Parenthood is known for its abortion operations and advocacy, including joining lawsuits targeting the Texas Heartbeat Act, but Beckley emphasized the other services the organization says it provides.

“As a small business owner, who didn’t have access to affordable healthcare, I used Planned Parenthood for years and know firsthand the importance of the healthcare services they provide,” said Beckley. “From breast and cervical cancer screenings to birth control and pregnancy planning to testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and gender affirming therapy, the work Planned Parenthood does in our Texas communities is absolutely indispensable.”

“If the Republican-led legislature really wanted to ensure that Texas women don’t get abortions, they would join me in contributing to Planned Parenthood, furthering their mission of providing access to affordable reproductive healthcare.”

Though currently the only Democrat in the state legislature from Denton County, Beckley isn’t planning on returning in 2023. Instead, she’s launched a campaign for Texas’ 24th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX-24).

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.