Texas Monthly reporter Jonathan Tilove said Tuesday night, “[I] can confirm [Johnson] and her wife [and González] and her fiancé are in Portugal for a vacation they had been planning, with non-refundable tickets, for a year-and-a-half.”
“[They’re] still participating in caucus meetings via ZOOM.”
Neither member has released a statement on the veracity of the European vacation, but González told the Express News in a text, “No one has shown proof. These are rumors, period. End of story.”
There are currently three days remaining in the first special session before its 30-day clock expires. Most of the Texas House Democrats, Johnson and González among them, have been on the lam in D.C. since their July 12 quorum break in an effort to kill an election reform bill.
House Democrats also broke quorum on the final day of the regular session in May to kill a similar version of the same election bill.
The Democrats in D.C. are hedging all their bets on the federal legislation known as the For the People Act, which would set federal election requirements across the whole nation. But to date, the Republicans’ filibuster of the bill has been unbroken.
González is the vice-chair of the House Elections Committee and has been one of the foremost opponents of the Texas legislation.
House Republicans sharply criticized the pair’s vacation upon hearing the news. “I’m missing my 14[-year-]old son’s football practices. I’ll be missing his [first] day of high school [and] my daughter’s first day of 1st grade,” said Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine).
“Day after day my colleagues and I show up to fulfill our oaths while we wait for the D’s publicity stunt to end.”
To date, only one civil arrest warrant has been issued for the truant Democrats — for Rep. Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio) who returned to Austin briefly and then promptly flew back to D.C.
The two members in Europe would not affect the ability to have a quorum if they were instead in Austin, but it’s unclear how long the Democrats intend to stay away. Governor Greg Abbott has said he will call continuous special sessions if that’s what it takes to pass his priority items.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.