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Texas Dems launch grandstanding voting rights tour days after more members test positive for COVID

Texas Democratic lawmakers who skipped out on a special legislative session to break quorum and stall Republican efforts to pass new election integrity bills will be holding a slew of voting rights-related events in Washington, D.C., this week to put pressure on the federal government to pass federal voting rights legislation.  

The five-day conference begins Monday and will feature guest speakers from around the country who will speak on voting rights. Notable names and organizations include the Service Employees International Union Texas and labor leader Dolores Huerta, according to reporting from the Washington Post. 

Texas Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, speaks as the Democratic members of the Texas House gather after a recess in the opening day of a special session in Austin, Texas.
(AP)

The Texas lawmakers are also expected to meet with their counterparts in Colorado and Nevada to discuss voting rights and best practices for elections. 

“Once there’s a little sunshine on this issue, I think there’s nobody in America that would disagree that voting rights are more important than Senate rules,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat from San Antonio, told NBC News. 

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More than 50 Texas lawmakers arrived in Washington on Monday after leaving their home state on a private charter flight. Five of those lawmakers have since tested positive for COVID-19 and are quarantined. 

The positive COVID tests have forced this week’s planned event on voting rights to be more virtual, with the Democratic lawmakers participating from their hotel and the guest speakers joining virtually. 

The day after the Texas Democrats went to D.C., the Texas House members who stayed in the state passed a Call of the House motion that requires all members to appear – those who fail to do so can be arrested and brought to the state capitol. 

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When the Democrats, who were already in D.C. at the time, did not show up, they became subject to arrest to be taken to the capitol. Gov. Greg Abbott said that because they left the current special session, he would “continue calling special session after special session because overtime is going to continue until they step up to vote.”

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.