Sidelined by health issues, Rep. Garnet Coleman reflects on 2021 Quorum break

Coleman led the Democrats to Oklahoma in 2003

The Democrats couldn't make the trip to D.C. this year due to health issues.
The Democrats couldn't make the trip to D.C. this year due to health issues.

HOUSTON – In 2003, the last time Texas House Democrats left the state to break quorum, State Representative Garnet Coleman was leading the charge.

“We knew that we had to do something,” said Coleman about the decision to flee to Ardmore, Oklahoma to block controversial redistricting legislation.

Now, his colleagues are taking a similar stand in Washington, D.C., but Coleman isn’t there.

“I would rather have been there. It hurts to not be there,” he said.

He’s sidelined after emergency surgery to remove part of his leg due to a flesh and bone-eating infection.

“The challenge of actually going, I would have to have somebody there with me. You know, going to the bathroom can be difficult, taking a shower doing all those things. It’s hard to get around D.C. and keep the schedules, fully able. And then with diabetes, I’m trying to make sure that I’m staying healthy,” he said.

Coleman says he’s still doing his part, breaking quorum, but staying in Texas. He says he wasn’t concerned with threats from Gov. Greg Abbott to have quorum-breaking Democrats arrested.

“Yeah, I mean if they want to come in here and grab and drag me out of my house and drag me up to the chamber in Austin. Go right ahead. But I think they wouldn’t look good doing it. And that’s the reality of that. We don’t do that in America,” Coleman said.

While the Texas House Democrats’ temporary move to D.C. has been criticized, Coleman says it was necessary.

“The action that was going to be taken during the special session on the change in voting rules was egregious in serious, and when people do things that go to the Nth degree on bad you have to do go to the Nth degree to stop it,” he said.

With just two days left in the Special Session, Coleman says he isn’t giving up hope.

“The window that we have to get something done is not long, but it’s not shut. If you talk about the bill itself, passing in Texas, it probably will pass. Hopefully, we can change them to some degree, and then if they pass, we’ll sue, it’s as simple as that,” Coleman said.

The Texas House Democrats have said they will return to the state once the special session is over. Gov. Abbott has said he will continue to call special sessions every 30 days until his legislative agenda is passed.


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