11

The GOP-controlled Texas Legislature finds itself unable to pass a voting bill due to State Democrats refusing to participate in the meetings, leading the state to lack a quorum. The GOP has made several threats against the Democrats to take their seats, but why doesn't the GOP nuke the quorum and now only require a simple majority of members?

0
49

Why doesn't the Texas legislature nuke the quorum?

... why doesn't the GOP nuke the quorum and now only require a simple majority of members?

Any change to the quorum requires an amendment to the Constitution.

THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE 3. LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT

Sec. 10. QUORUM; ADJOURNMENTS FROM DAY TO DAY; COMPELLING ATTENDANCE. Two-thirds of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide.

9

In addition to the answer by Rick Smith there is also the very big problem that the majority party doesn't need to work with the minority party at all.

If all you needed was a simple majority of members to conduct business what is stopping the majority party from starting sessions without informing the minority party? To me it sounds like they could just start a session when no one from the minority party is present and pass all the bills that they want to with no one to object.

While that may sound great for getting what they want pushed through they have to consider the fact that if they lose control the other party will just do the same to them. In order for them to not lose control in the future they can't do that in the present.

1
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JJJ
    Jul 16 at 17:13
3

Even if Texas Republicans could change the quorum rules, they might not want to.

The Texas Senate Democrats chose to go to Washington, DC not only to deny the Republicans a quorum, but also to essentially lobby the US Senate Democrats to pass voting rights legislation to prevent the type of restrictions that the Texas Republicans are trying to pass. Passing this legislation through the US Senate will most likely require abolishing, modifying, or making an exception to the US Senate's filibuster rules. If the Texas Republicans were to change the rules of their legislative process to pass their bill, it might give additional weight to the argument that the US Senate Democrats should do the same.

2
  • 3
    This seems rather speculative. Is there any precedent for the US Senate to change how they work based on what one state does? It seems like it would be a minor factor, at most, for them, and thus an even more minor factor for the Texas Republicans.
    – NotThatGuy
    Jul 15 at 14:19
  • 1
    The Texas Qroum is in the state constitution while the Senate Filibuster is a rule agreed by the senate. The two are distinctly different in how they operate Jul 16 at 16:42
0

I'm not 100% sure that this will be relevant, but it's worth noting that the U.S. Senate has a rule about quorum, and specifically is noted on the senate government website states the following (Bold for emphasis by myself):

Article I, section 5 of the Constitution requires that a quorum (51 senators) be present for the Senate to conduct business. Often, fewer than 51 senators are present on the floor, but the Senate presumes a quorum unless a roll call vote or quorum call suggests otherwise.

In particular, the issue with a lack of a quorum isn't always necessarily that big of a deal that nuking it is considered extreme.

Given the public departure of the Democrats from the legislature, it could be that they are unable to act as if they do have quorum ignoring that they don't, or that at least one Democrat is in the legislature suggesting that there is a lack of quorum.

It could be similar to a filibuster to an effect - to break a filibuster, you need the two-thirds majority to vote to end a filibuster...and if you don't have that, you're at the mercy of the person insisting that they still have the right to debate the law that is being filibustered.

5
  • 1
    As for the US Senate, and this is from memory of an Al Franken article: you used to need 2/3s of those present. Now you need 3/5ths of the total (which is a constant 60). The 2/3s rule was more lax in practice -- 66 senators show up on a Friday and you only need 44 to continue. Jul 14 at 22:53
  • 1
    You are misunderstanding a key point about the quorum in the senate and how it operates. While they assume that there is one present as soon as it is questioned they have to do an official check and cancel the session if it is not met. In the cast of Texas it is very clear that there will not be a quorum present so even if they tried to "assume" one was present anything they did would hit legal challenges.
    – Joe W
    Jul 15 at 13:37
  • 1
    @JoeW: Sure, they have to do an official check as soon as it is questioned, but if they've completed a session before being questioned, they could, as I understand, get away with below quorum. It's my understanding for a refusal to be at the meeting to be able to uphold the cancellation of a session if the quorum isn't met, the side having everyone leave in protest have one person stay specifically to be the person to raise the question. Once it`s cancelled, they then can leave. Jul 15 at 19:24
  • In a case like this there is no possible excuse they can give to claim that they thought they had enough for quorum. That fact alone would be enough for the courts to overturn everything they did. I would also argue that if they claimed they had quorum (2/3rd in this case) and they only got enough votes to reach 51% of the members would cause issues. If they can't show enough votes to meet quorum that would cause problems as members have the ability to vote present if they don't want to vote on a bill.
    – Joe W
    Jul 15 at 20:55
  • @CGCampbell: Thanks for the heads up - made the edit myself to align with the rest of the post! Jul 17 at 0:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .