87th LegislatureState HouseTexas House Democrats Struggle to Portray Unity After Quorum Break Ends

House Democrats showed near-unified opposition to Republicans when they broke quorum in July, but now that unity is eroding.
August 20, 2021
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A rift among Texas House Democrats is growing after a total of 17 of its members no longer blocked efforts to establish a quorum in the lower chamber on Thursday.

In a joint statement, 33 members of the party reportedly said that they were “disappointed that a few Democrats chose to return to the floor.”

“We feel betrayed and heartbroken, but our resolve is strong and this fight is not over,” they wrote. “With their questionable quorum, Republicans are now fully enabled and empowered to enact virtually all of Abbott’s directives, including many dangerous pieces of legislation that will fundamentally hurt the lives of Texans.”

They also expressed expectations that the legislation they sought to block will eventually be approved by GOP lawmakers.

“We know what we are dealing with,” they said. “Republicans will lie about the number of legislators present at the Capitol to establish quorum, keep Texans in the dark, and bend the rules to get their way. Millions of Texans will be deeply harmed by the policy that will pass in the next 17 days.”

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Aside from former Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) — whose recent resignation was effective on Thursday and lowered the threshold from a quorum from 100 to 99 — there are another 16 House Democrats who neither signed the letter condemning their colleagues nor returned for the quorum on Thursday.

Among those who did not criticize the “defectors” of the quorum break was Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie).

Turner released a statement on Thursday evening after the House gaveled in, touting that, “By taking bold action and breaking quorum, House Democrats secured major victories for Texans and for voters across the country.”

In the press release, Turner said that there “was not a true quorum present” on the floor, alluding to the apparent lack of some members’ physical presence in the chamber on Thursday.

House members routinely allow their colleagues to vote for them from the floor, and though some representatives were not seen at their desks on Thursday, none of those listed in the quorum have disputed that listing.

All the same, Turner said it was “ironic, given this entire session is premised around Republicans preaching about so-called voter integrity.”

Turner also tried to project a semblance of unity among Democrats in his statement, too, noting that the entire 66-member caucus continues to “oppose Texas Republicans’ efforts to erect deliberate barriers to voting, barriers based on the Big Lie.”

When Rep. Ana Hernandez (D-Houston) announced that she would be returning to the House along with Reps. Armando Walle (D-Houston) and Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), her statement was met with some opposition from fellow Democrats.

Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), for instance, said, “This is how Texas Democrats lose elections.”

However, not all Democrats expressed contempt.

Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) replied by saying that the three returning members “taught me that they are consistently guided by their values.”

“I believe them when they say that they believe they can do more good on the House floor than off of it. Those who share values can disagree on tactics,” said Zwiener. 

Below are lists of the Democrats who were part of the quorum, those who joined the statement criticizing their colleagues, and the remaining 16 members.

House Democrats Who Were Part of the Quorum:

  • Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg)
  • Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Art Fierro (D-El Paso)
  • Rep. Mary González (D-Clint)
  • Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-Mission)
  • Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City)
  • Rep. Ana Hernandez (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown)
  • Rep. Tracy O. King (D-Batesville)
  • Rep. Oscar Longoria (D-Mission)
  • Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville)
  • Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso)
  • Rep. Eddie Morales Jr. (D-Eagle Pass)
  • Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock)
  • Rep. John Turner (D-Dallas)
  • Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston)

House Democrats Who Joined Statement Condemning Colleagues:

  • Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton)
  • Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio)
  • Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland)
  • Rep. Elizabeth Campos (D-San Antonio)
  • Rep. Sheryl Cole (D-Austin)
  • Rep. Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth)
  • Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas)
  • Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont)
  • Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio)
  • Rep. Jessica González (D-Dallas)
  • Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin)
  • Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin)
  • Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin)
  • Rep. Jarvis Johnson (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Ray Lopez (D-San Antonio)
  • Rep. Armando Martinez (D-Weslaco)
  • Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio)
  • Rep. Terry Meza (D-Irving)
  • Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio)
  • Rep. Christina Morales (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Penny Morales Shaw (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr. (D-Palmview)
  • Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez (D-El Paso)
  • Rep. Mary Ann Perez (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D-Richardson)
  • Rep. Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo)
  • Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin)
  • Rep. Ramon Romero Jr. (D-Fort Worth)
  • Rep. Carl Sherman Sr. (D-DeSoto)
  • Rep. Shawn Thierry (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Hubert Vo (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston)

Remaining House Democrats:

  • Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas)
  • Rep. John Bucy III (D-Austin)
  • Rep. Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio)
  • Rep. Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas)
  • Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville)
  • Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin)
  • Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton)
  • Rep. Ann Johnson (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Dallas)
  • Rep. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso)
  • Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City)
  • Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas)
  • Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston)
  • Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie)
  • Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood)

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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.