It’s time for the week that was in Texas politics with Ben Philpott, managing editor of KUT News in Austin.
Several of the Texas Democrats who walked out of the special legislative session to break quorum have tested positive for COVID-19, despite all of them being vaccinated. Philpott says the positive tests slowed down lawmakers’ in-person work with fellow Democrats in Washington, where they had traveled from Austin. Lawmakers say they are either experiencing no symptoms or very minor ones.
“They’ve taken a couple of days to assess, but they are plowing forward with more of those meetings with people in Congress to try to get federal voting laws passed,” Philpott said.
In 2003, a Democratic walkout delayed passage of redistricting legislation proposed by Republicans, who set to benefit from the redrawn boundary lines, gaining seats in Congress. Philpott says in that way, the current quorum break resembles the 2003 walkout.
“It’s all about the ballot box,” he said.
Philpott says that in 2003, House Democrats left Texas during the first special session. During a second special session, Democratic senators left.
“The sense I’m getting this time is there’s not going to be that second wave with the Senate,” he said.
Back in Austin, the city has returned to Stage 4 COVID-19 guidelines, which includes a recommendation that all residents wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said there would be no new state COVID-19 mandates.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.