AUSTIN — Rep. Harold Dutton returned to the House floor in Austin on Tuesday after joining breakaway Democrats in Washington last week – and even launched a solo effort to wrest concessions in a GOP-backed election bill.
Dutton, the third longest-serving member of the Texas House – and one who’s not afraid to defy his fellow Democrats – surprised Republican colleagues with his return.
He’d missed seven days of the special session, and his absence helped Democrats block action on the voting bill and all other items that Gov. Greg Abbott has placed on the agenda.
In an interview at his Capitol office, Dutton explained that he decamped from Washington, D.C., on Saturday for family reasons – his sister, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz., is staying at Dutton’s home in Houston while she undergoes chemotherapy.
Over the weekend, after tending to domestic items such as having a broken garage-door opener repaired, Dutton said he heard about the outbreak of coronavirus infections among his Democratic colleagues in Washington.
Dutton said he decided it was unwise for him to return to the nation’s capital.
“I thought, ‘I can’t do that because I can’t expose myself [to COVID-19] and then I come back home to her … because her white blood cell count is down because she’s taking chemotherapy,’” he recounted.
“So I thought, ‘I can’t go back there.’ So I thought, ‘Well, OK, maybe I’ll just go to Austin. I’ll go to see Murr.”
Dutton was referring to…