On Monday, private planes departed from Austin carrying the state legislators just hours before the GOP-led Texas House of Representatives was expected to take up election reform bills in the special session that was called by Gov. Greg Abbott.
“We are living on borrowed time in Texas,” the Democrats said in a statement announcing they were joining national Democrats on Capitol Hill to demand passage of the For the People Act.
"Democrats won't be able to stay in D.C. forever …. Because Texas is a part-time legislature, legislators have families and jobs to return to. Gov. Abbott can continue to call special sessions and has said he will do so.
"Speaker [Dade] Phelan has indicated he will use every resource to compel members to return to the legislature’s chambers and to fulfill their duties to their constituents …. The polling is clear: Texans want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat."
Texas House of Representative rules require two-thirds of the 150-member chamber to be present to conduct business, according to the Texas Tribune, but the same rules state that “absentees” without an excuse for missing the session can be arrested by the sergeant-at-arms “and their attendance shall be secured and retained,” the newspaper said.
Gov. Abbott announced Tuesday that the missing lawmakers would be arrested once they return to Texas soil, and the House voted 76-4 later in the day to arrest their missing lawmakers.
On social media, the defiant Democrats have been mocked for breaking into an off-key rendition of “We Shall Overcome” on Capitol Hill.
One state lawmaker, Gene Wu, was mocked for claiming he was recognized by numerous people at a D.C. airport and "applauded" for leaving Texas.
"The world is watching," Rep. Wu later claimed in a Twitter post showing the media gathered around the Capitol Hill press conference.
Another social media post shows the plane-riding and maskless Democrats wearing "Make America Great Again" masks.
The political stunt also earned a story at The Babylon Bee. "Other states look to Texas for advice on how to get Democrats to leave," reads the satiricial headline at the Bee.
“I think it's a very sad move for the Democrats,” observes Cathie Adams of Texas Eagle Forum. “They have a responsibility to their constituents, and instead they're looking at themselves. They're building themselves up.”