Travel Two fugitive Texas Dems who fled to DC are 'vacationing in PORTUGAL'
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Two of the runaway Democrats who fled to D.C. last month were missing from the district this week – and reportedly the duo took off to Portugal for a vacation.
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Governor Greg Abbott also called on Thursday for a second special legislative session to pass two Republican voting rights bills, which is the reason that sparked the several dozen Democratic lawmakers to flee the state and break quorum in the first place.
'I will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity, and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve,' Abbott said in a statement. 'Passing these Special Session agenda items will chart a course towards a stronger and brighter future for the Lone Star State.'
The Texas Democratic Caucus could not account for state Representatives Julie Johnson of Farmers Branch and Jessica González of Dallas in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, a person familiar with the situationin a Wednesday report.
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Aon Tuesday they could confirm both lawmakers and their partners went to 'Portugal for a vacation they had been planning, with non-refundable tickets, for a year-and-a-half.'
The duo, the reporter continued, were still participating in meetings with the caucus over Zoom.
Texas Republican House member Tom Oliverson lamented on Twitter that he had to cancel a family vacation to make it to the state's special session as he took his oath to serve the people of his district seriously.
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Video: Texas lawmakers spent weeks in D.C. fighting for voting rights (The Washington Post)
'Wow, just wow,' Oliverson tweeted in response to two of his Democratic colleagues taking a vacation from their D.C. hiatus. 'Had to cancel my family's vacation last week to Grand Teton because of a special session they helped create back in May.'
'Texas deserves better than this,' he added.
Several in the group of around 60 Democrats who fled from Austin last month have called themselves heroes and said they are doing their civic duty by not showing up for their job in the Texas legislature and instead lobbying the U.S. Congress to pass the For the People voting reform bill.
'Please pray for these heroic Texas Democrats as they suffer away from home, in Portugal. Perhaps consider sending them a care package?' Congressman Dan Crenshaw, who represents Texas' 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House, sarcastically tweeted.
The Dallas Democrats posted on their Twitter last month, 'Our Dems in DC said they'd appreciate care packages from home,' as they prepared to send items to the runaways.
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'Before 5pm Tues, we're collecting Dr. Pepper, salsa, hard candy, hairspray, travel toiletries, hand sanitizers, sewing kits, first aid, and/ or $ to pay shipping,' the tweet continued.
In a, González said 'No one has shown proof' of the Portugal trip.
'These are rumors, period,' she said in the Tuesday evening text. 'End of story.'
González, in particular, plays a prominent role in the voting rights fight as vice chair of the Texas House Elections Committee.
Between July and August 7, when the first special session ends, the Texas Democrats predicted they would spend around $1.5 million for transportation, hotel accommodations, food and other expenses in D.C.
The group chartered two private jets at $100,000 to flee Austin early last month.
None wore masks and soon after an outbreak occurred among the group where at least six tested positive for coronavirus despite being vaccinated. One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's aides, who helped usher the group around the Capitol, also tested positive as well as a White House staffer.
Since arriving, the runaways have been staying at the Washington Plaza Hotel in the northwest quadrant of the city. Rooms start at $199 per night.
The group has been criticized by Republicans who claim they are dodging their duty to show up and vote on legislation, even if it will have an unfavorable outcome for their interests. Democrats, however, have praised the Texas lawmakers for sticking it to the GOP and not allowing voting reform bills to pass through the State House.
News of Johnson and González's absence came the same day this week when more than 100 state legislators across the nation showed up to support their fight against what they feel are more restrictive voting laws.
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