SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Texas House Democrats and Republicans have been going back and forth this week over legislation that would give retired teachers a bonus pension check.
The Texas House of Representatives sits in gridlock as House Democrats broke quorum by leaving the state on Monday to protest voting and election security legislation and to speak to lawmakers in Washington D.C. about federal voting protections.
The bonus dubbed the “13th check” that is outlined in Senate Bill 7 would payout one extra pension payment to retired teachers in Texas. The Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 7 Tuesday during the Texas Legislature’s Special Session where it awaits a vote by the Texas House.
Republicans said Tuesday afternoon that Democrats are leaving retired teachers hanging in the balance by breaking quorum.
“Final passage of this bill into law will require the House Democrats who have fled the state to return to the House for a quorum,” Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said. “If they do not, this bill will die, but the Senate will pass SB 7 over and over until the House finally has a quorum.”
House Democrats responded by saying the 13th Check legislation “was killed by Republican leadership” during the regular session earlier this year when House Bill 3507 died in the chamber.
“After their failure to take action during session, we look forward to working with our Republican colleagues to once again advance this important measure after they end their dishonest assault on the freedom to vote,” Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services Chairman Rafael Anchía said from Washinton D.C.
Texas House Republicans spoke at the Capitol Thursday and Chairman Jim Murphy said the state could not afford to pass the legislation during the regular session due to budget issues.
Murphy said this legislation is “universally supported.”
“If our colleagues really do support the measure to help our retired teachers, we call on them to come home to get to work and join us in voting for this bill,” Murphy said. “Anything less is political pandering.”
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan is working to ensure an easy departure to Texas for his colleagues if they choose to return.
“In an effort to further compel House Democrats to return to the State of Texas, I am chartering a plane that will be on standby in Washington, D.C. on Saturday,” Phelan said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “I am demanding all of our colleagues in D.C. to contact my staff immediately in order to secure their seat on the plane and return to Austin in order to do the state’s business. The State of Texas is waiting.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Monday that Texas Democrats will be arrested and “cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done” as soon as they return to the state.