San Antonio lawmaker returns to DC once again, breaking quorum in Texas House

Rep. Philip Cortez returned to D.C. Sunday after coming back to Austin last week

State Rep. Philip Cortez, D-San Antonio, aboard a plane bound for Washington, D.c., on July 12, 2021. More than 50 Texas Democrats fled the state Capitol for a quorum break to prevent Republicans from passing a contentious voting rights bill.
State Rep. Philip Cortez, D-San Antonio, aboard a plane bound for Washington, D.c., on July 12, 2021. More than 50 Texas Democrats fled the state Capitol for a quorum break to prevent Republicans from passing a contentious voting rights bill.

Texas State Rep. Philip Cortez, from San Antonio, has returned to Washington D.C. again after leaving the state capitol and breaking quorum once more, the Texas House Democratic Caucus confirms.

Rep. Cortez said the move comes after progress on House Bill 3 has come to a standstill.

If passed, the legislation would impose several voting restrictions, including banning drive-thru and 24-hour voting locations and implementing new voter identification requirements on absentee voters.

According to a previous KSAT article, those not in favor of the bill say the measure would also make it harder for people with disabilities to vote, while others say the bill strengthens election integrity and security.

Rep. Cortez said although there have been discussions on the bill, progress was lacking.

“After discussions on improving House Bill 3 have not produced progress, I rejoined my Democratic colleagues in Washington, D.C. I stand firm in my resolve to remain with the Democratic Caucus until the special session ends, and to do whatever it takes to fight for the freedom to vote for all Texans,” Cortez said in a release.

Rep. Cortez said he returned to Austin last week to begin discussions on improving House Bill 3 with a group of Democrats.

In an interview with KSAT, Cortez said “I came back strictly to have these open communication lines discussions, negotiations. Had the opportunity not been there to begin this dialogue and these discussions, I would have stayed in D.C.”

Cortez also said, “It’s important that any issue, especially a controversial one like this -- that we have different tracks that we’re taking to address the issue.”

Despite backlash Cortez received for returning to Austin, House Democrats who remained in D.C. said they are happy to have Cortez back.

“In the Texas House Democratic Caucus, our unity is our strength. We welcome Rep. Phil Cortez, who is a valued member of our Caucus, back to Washington, D.C. with open arms. All 57 Democrats breaking quorum are just as firm in our commitment to seeing this through until the end as we were the day we left. We are united and unrelenting in our commitment to protect the freedom to vote,” Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair, Chris Turner said in a statement.

It’s been nearly two weeks since House Democrats fled to D.C. in an effort to break quorum and prevent the passing of voter restriction legislation.

The House Democrats said they will remain in D.C. until August 6, when the special legislative session called by Gov. Abbott ends.

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About the Author:

Emily Martin is a digital producer trainee at KSAT. She earned a journalism degree from Texas State University, where she was news director at KTSW, the campus radio station. She has also interned at KXAN and KUT in Austin.