AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Dozens of Texas Democrats who flew to Washington, D.C., to break quorum in Austin could be arrested once they return to the Texas Capitol.
Remaining House members, mostly Republicans, passed a bill directing state troopers to search for the Democratic lawmakers.
For most of Tuesday, the door to the Texas House was locked and lawmakers couldn't leave the chamber. But now, they all got their permission slips to leave the chamber and return at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Republicans say Democrats abandoned their jobs, but Democrats insist they are working to protect the right to vote.
The Texas House came to a standstill after the Democrats left to keep the chamber from voting on House Bill 3, the elections integrity bill and other measures.
The Democrats held a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, urging Congress to pass federal legislation that would, in effect, block any Texas legislation.
"More than 50 members of the House left Texas to stop Republicans from passing their latest iteration of their voter suppression bill," state Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, said.
"We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. It needs to be signed into law and we also need to pass HR 1. Our citizens can't wait any longer," U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said.
At the Texas Capitol, Republicans rallied against Democrats' actions and accusations that the elections bill hurts residents' ability to vote.
"There is no suppression. That is a lie. They are lying to the citizens of Texas," state Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano, said.
"They want the federal government to dictate policy for the state of Texas. They want politicians from California and New York to tell us how to run our elections in Texas," state Rep. Mayes Middleton, R-Galveston, said.
State Rep. John Turner, D-Dallas, is one of four Democrats who stayed at the Texas Capitol.
"This is just a decision each of us made to how we feel we can best oppose bad legislation and I fully respect this decision to be in Washington, doing whatever they do and we stand unified in the effort," Turner said.
Lawmakers make $221 per day during the regular and special sessions.
The Texas Senate was able to pass its elections integrity bill, SB 1, Tuesday evening 18-4 along party lines.
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