This isn’t the first time Texas Republicans have issued such warrants; they did so after Democrats moved en masse to Washington, D.C. to block the previous Republican attempt to get new voting restrictions passed. But the warrants can’t be enforced outside of the state of Texas, so as long as state Democratic lawmakers stay more than grappling hook distance across state lines, it’s a moot point.
So what happens now? It depends on whether a sufficient number of Democrats have returned to the state to make such arrests possible. It’d be a pretty major gaffe for them to be caught flat-footed on that, given the almost-certain chance Phelan and his Republicans would repeat their previous vote, but this is America and God knows what will happen anywhere, about anything, these days.
Everything about the Republican-held Texas legislature right now has been a mess, which is probably not surprising given the state’s multiple-corruption-scandal-tarred attorney general has been under indictment for SEVEN. DAMN. YEARS now and the current Republican governor has made a not-Ron-DeSantis name for himself as one of the most aggressive saboteurs of pandemic safety measures in the country. The current “emergency” special legislative session was called by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for the sole purpose of passing new “emergency” voting restrictions; it follows a previous special session called for the same reason.
According to Texas Republicans throughout the state, passing new rules making it more difficult and time consuming to vote is truly an official emergency. Given that state lawmakers haven’t been shy in predicting that their new voting laws will help cement Republican control over rising numbers of Democratic voters, the reason for haste is self-evident.
That the state’s hospital systems are buckling under a new surge of COVID-19, however, is not considered an emergency, even though COVID-19 infections among statehouse Republicans are now so high that the Republicans not currently under quarantine will struggle to find a quorum. (I kid: You can bet your oversized belt buckle that all but the sickest of infectious Republicans will break quarantine in a red-hot second if spreading the pandemic can be traded for new restrictions on who can vote and when.) The pandemic is also not considered something lawmakers have to worry their heads about despite Abbott now pleading for out-of-state help to shore up the state’s stuffed-full hospitals.
But people voting? That’s an existential crisis. A considerable number of Texans voted against a Republican president who bumblefucked his way through 600,000 American deaths, economic collapse, and omnipresent scandal and the state’s Republicans were so alarmed by that that they immediately reassembled the legislature to make sure it couldn’t happen again. Incompetent fascism can survive a pandemic; it’s a lot harder to survive an election.