House Speaker Dade Phelan declares that a quorum is not present on Monday, August 9, 2021.

Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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The Texas House on Monday fell just short of having enough members to begin conducting official business and voted overwhelmingly in favor of a procedural move that locked the doors of the chamber to prevent members from leaving in an effort to retain a quorum.

The move, known as a “call of the House,” signals the continuation of a weekslong impasse between Democrats and Republicans in the chamber over a GOP elections bill as the second special session gets underway.

This is the second time in recent weeks the majority Republican House has voted to issue a call of the House, though members on Monday did not offer or debate a motion to enable law enforcement to track down members still missing from the chamber. During the first special legislative session that ended Friday, the House voted overwhelmingly for such a motion while over 50 Democrats were camped out in Washington, D.C., to block that elections legislation.

Earlier Monday, a state district judge in Travis County granted a temporary restraining order to block the arrest of those quorum-busting Democrats, enabling those still out of state to remain in their locations without the threat of arrest.

The chamber came within five members of having a quorum Monday evening after at least four House Democrats who were in D.C. were back on the floor, including state Reps. Joe Moody of El Paso and Mary González of Clint. Moody last month was stripped from his speaker pro tempore position by House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, as political retribution for joining his colleagues in Washington, D.C.

Under a call of the House, which was offered Monday by state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, doors to the chamber are locked and members must receive permission in writing from the speaker before they are allowed to leave. The motion passed, 80-8.

Soon after members adopted the motion, Phelan released members until 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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