Texas Legislature: What is a quorum?

Texas Politics

The special session gets underway July 8, 2021 (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Legislature must have what’s called a “quorum” in order to do business proposing, discussing and voting on bills. But what does that mean, and why would you ever “break” it?

A quorum is “the minimum number of members of an assembly or society that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary — basically, the number of lawmakers needed to be present to take action on bills, including voting. For Texas, that number of people is defined in the constitution and rules are set each legislative session.

The House must have two-thirds of its members, or 100 people, present. The Senate also needs two-thirds, or 21 members, present.

If people do not show up, the House may “compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide.” The Senate rules say “Those for whom no sufficient excuse is made, by order of the majority of those present, may be sent for and arrested wherever they may be found and their attendance secured and retained by the Sergeant-at-Arms or officers appointed by the Sergeant for that purpose.”

Breaking quorum

In 2003, Texas Democrats left the state so there wouldn’t be a quorum as the legislature considered a redistricting plan. That process is called “breaking quorum” and they did it twice that year. The legislation ultimately passed.

Texas Democrats also broke quorum earlier this year in an attempt to kill a bill that would change election rules.

On Monday, some Democrats planned to leave the state as the legislature took up those election bills again in a special session.

Why break quorum?

Breaking quorum halts the legislature’s ability to do its normal business, including passing bills. While some functions do not require a quorum, others require it.

The Texas House and Senate are both controlled by Republicans. There are 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the Senate, and there are 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats in the House. The Republicans have enough votes to pass legislation without Democrats. Breaking quorum may come into play to stop passage of legislation because there needs to be a set amount of lawmakers present in order to hold a vote at all.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



Rotary International Convention Coming to Houston in 2022

Typhoon In-Fa new Tokyo and Tropics update - Adam Krueger

Tokyo Olympics forecast - Adam Krueger

Weekend Minute Maid Park forecast and 7-Day - Carrigan Chauvin, Star Harvey

Weekend grilling and beach forecast - Star Harvey

Mystery Wire| Are UFOs and cryptid creatures connected?

Feels like forecast for weekend of July 23,2021 - Adam Krueger

Outside/Inside: Weather & Migraines - Carrigan Chauvin

Governor Abbott signs anti-fentanyl legislation into law in Houston

30-day temperature recap & 7-day forecast

Sunrise and today's forecast - Adam Krueger

"Stargirl" August 10 on Cw39

Weather | Child car deaths, a closer look at car VS. Air temperature - Star Harvey

Sunrise and Air quality is an Ozone Action Day - Adam Krueger

1 month rain recap - Carrigan Chauvin

Houston athlete schedule for Japan 2020 - Sharron Melton

New '311' call center for Houston - Sharron Melton

Weather | Recap lack of heat and abundance of rain for the last 30 days

Weather Wednesday (Lightning)


Don't Miss