Why We are Here -- Working to Defend Texas

The "quorum-busting" Democrats defend their actions.

The 53 Democrats who initially "busted the quorum" in the Texas House of Representatives and traveled to Ardmore, Oklahoma or elsewhere to avoid arrest and return released the following statement on Monday, May 19. -- M.K.


We did not choose our path, Tom DeLay did. We are ready to stand on the House floor and work day and night to deal with real issues facing Texas families. At a time when we are told there is no time to deal with school finance, and when we must still resolve issues like the state budget crisis and insurance reform, the fact that an outrageous partisan power grab sits atop the House calendar is unconscionable.

Our House rules, including those regarding a quorum, were adopted precisely to protect the people from what is before the House today -- the tyranny of a majority. By our actions today, we are fulfilling our responsibilities to our constituents and upholding the oaths we took to serve the people of Texas.

The redistricting plan scheduled today before the Texas House of Representatives is the ultimate in political greed -- it is undemocratic, unjust and unprecedented. It's a power grab by Tom DeLay, pure and simple. The current congressional plan has been ruled by our United States Supreme Court to be constitutional and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Elections have been held, and we should respect the will of Texas voters.

Our Republican Attorney General ruled that this map can stand for the decade, and that we are not mandated to do redraw congressional districts this session. Many Republicans privately oppose it. Texas newspapers have editorialized against it. We do redistricting every ten years, not whenever those in power demand it.

Our Republican Attorney General ruled that we are not obligated to do this. Many Republicans privately oppose taking up redistricting. Texas newspapers editorialized against it. We do redistricting every ten years, not whenever those in power demand it.

This misbegotten plan is a monument to Tom DeLay's ego, appetite for power and disregard for our constitutional rights. He drew the map. He insists on passing it. No one benefits more than Tom DeLay. He believes he should choose who represents Texas in Congress, not Texas voters.

House Democrats are taking a stand for fair play for all Texans. We refuse to participate in an inherently unfair process that slams the door of opportunity in the face of Texas voters.

We won't be present today -- or any day -- that the House plans to consider this outrageous partisan action. We refuse to provide a quorum for Tom DeLay's attempt to grab power at the expense of the rights all Texans are guaranteed under our Texas and United States Constitutions.

We refuse to be present:

Because the Texas House has more important business than satisfying Tom DeLay: a $10 billion shortfall, a school finance crisis, a troubled economy, insurance abuse (our Governor's declared emergency, and still not passed) and a looming disaster in health care for the children, the elderly and the disabled.

Because the House Redistricting Committee violated the Voting Rights Act, and refused to respect the voice of all Texans.

Because the actual map to be considered by the House was intentionally hidden, then suddenly introduced at the last minute and voted out at a late night meeting with no opportunity for public comment.

Because DeLay's gerrymander splits cities and fractures traditional communities of interestólike the grotesque plan to crack Austin into four separate districts, with tentacles that stretch from the Capitol to Houston on the east and southward hundreds of to the miles to the Mexican border.

Texas today has more important business than bending to Tom DeLay: like a $10 billion budget shortfall, a school finance [crisis], a troubled economy, insurance abuse and a looming disaster in health care for children, the elderly and the disabled. We are ready to work to solve the problems caused by budget cuts in education and health care, not on cutting up the State of Texas to satisfy Tom DeLay's quest for power.

We do not stand alone.

"Texas should ignore DeLay's redistricting plan." Dallas Morning News, 05/11/03

"At a time when Texas is grasping for pennies to immunize Texas children, legislators don't need to waste resources giving booster shots to political power plays." Houston Chronicle, 02/02/03

"DeLay's raw partisan effort ... is a damaging distraction that should be abandoned. ... The decision to make these changes is much too significant to rush through the legislature to satisfy DeLay's appetite for power." San Antonio Express News, 05/07/03

"The map finally kicked out of Crabb's committee ... is a textbook example of everything wrong with the redistricting process. It was largely done in secret." Waco Tribune Herald

The map is a travesty that shatters the community of interest that is the foundation of congressional redistricting ... It's a Machiavellian scheme that should be soundly defeated. Austin American-Statesman, 05/02/03

"Until DeLay gets elected to an office in Austin, he needs to keep his mind on Washington matters." San Angelo Standard Times, 02/14/03

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

78th Legislature, Tom DeLay, redistricting, Voting Rights Act, Attorney General, House Redistricting Committee, gerrymander, Joe Crabb

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