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This Week In Statehouse Motion: Do not Mess With The Session Version

(By the way, for those of you who lead normal lives and are not obsessed with legislative machinations, a quorum is the minimum number of members a governing body needs to conduct official business.

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In the Texas Legislature, two-thirds of the elected members in each chamber have a quorum.

So for Texas lawmakers to legislate, 100 members of the 150-seat House of Representatives and 21 members of the 31-seat Senate must be in attendance.)

So! On Monday, instead of gathering in the state capital, 57 of these Democrats just… left.

And most of them came to DC, which is both politically smart and kept them from being arrested and / or forcibly returned to the House floor by a very grumpy Abbott.

The Texas Democrats are using their opposition to the new voter suppression laws in their state to

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Raise awareness of the efforts of the Federal Democrats to pass a law at the national level to suppress voters.

The Texas Senate (18 R / 13 D) met Tuesday to pass Republican electoral-undermining law, but only barely! The move was passed 18 to four as nine Democratic Senators left Austin to join the Democrats in the DC House of Representatives

If there were two more headlines, the Senate would not have a quorum.

But as long as enough House Democrats stay away, it doesn’t matter; Since the State House is completely incapable of accepting Senate bills, anything that is passed in the Upper Chamber is symbolic.

What … well, symbolism is actually important!

Take the Democrats of the Texas House.

It is a big deal to step down from your job as an elected official no matter the circumstances.

Sometimes this leads to real concessions from the other side!

Take the Oregon Senate GOP strikes in 2019 and 2020, for example.

Both stunts that rejected the quorum resulted in Republicans getting what they wanted: two separate environmental laws designed to slow down climate change died, one in each session.

However, the GOP has not exactly caught on.

After the 2020 session closed with no significant greenhouse gas mitigation action, Democratic Governor Kate Brown signed an executive order that achieved most of what the failed legislation should have achieved.

Ultimately, the Republican Oregon stunt was only symbolic.

But what did they really have to lose?

… we have an answer, actually: nothing.

Not only did one of the retired Republicans of the Oregon Senate lose his re-election, but the GOP even took a seat in the chamber the following November.

(Still, you can’t block anything without a full-scale strike – the Oregon Senate is 18 D / 12 R.)

But!

My point is that hand wrestling over the Texas Dems “end game” is a waste of time and energy.

Maybe they’ll wait for the remainder of the 30-day special session and go home.

Maybe Abbott will call another special session and they will do it again.

(Prediction: Abbott is calling a special session in December so Democrats have to be away from their families during the holidays if they ricochet again + ordinary Americans don’t pay as much attention to politics because of these holidays, the house is quorate in the end about things too do, and a terrible voter suppression law will finally be passed in time for the midterm elections.)

But … it doesn’t matter.

The Texas Democrats should do as many of these stunts as they have the time, energy, and resources.

Because next year it doesn’t matter.

Why?

Redistribution.

Before the next round of congressional and (most) parliamentary elections, new district maps will be created and implemented across the country.

And in most of the states where lawmakers own these map drawing pens (including Texas), Republicans are in control of the process.

That said, no matter what the Texas Democrats do, their GOP colleagues will talk the shit out of them.

No democrat is safe.

No Democrat has been safe from the Texas strikes, and even if they step out a dozen more before the 2022 elections, it won’t matter.

The Texas Republicans would always form as many safe legislative districts as possible, and they would always cram Democrats into as few legislative districts as possible.

In fact, the real question here is: why aren’t more Democrats in GOP-controlled legislatures taking drastic measures to thwart the Republicans?

If you’ve read me, say, for at least eight months or so, you probably know that the 2020 elections were shit for low-voting Democrats.

Instead of overturning a handful of legislatures – as many election watchers (including myself) expected – the Democrats actually lost two houses (the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the New Hampshire Senate, which gave Republicans triple control over the state government).

Which sucked a lot in and of itself, but meant DOOM for the democratic legislature and Congress for the next decade.

Currently, the Democrats have a majority in just 37 Houses of Parliament, while the Republicans control 62.

And after the Republicans rearrange their own states, those numbers are likely to get even more one-sided.

Because even if GOP Gerrymandering doesn’t change which party controls a chamber, it will certainly be damned unreachable for the Democrats to turn the page until 2030.

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