WASHINGTON – Texas Republicans call the departure of their Democratic counterparts in Washington an abandonment or a vacation. But members of the minority party said their pursuit of federal voting laws was far from it. They fled the state legislature, leaving family members and job responsibilities behind while they settled in the country’s capital.
Sometimes Washington official business can be a family affair, and that becomes a balancing act. State Rep. Erin Zweiner, D-Driftwood, brought her 3-year-old daughter Lark with her for the week-long stay, which includes meetings with US Senators.
“She was a real champion at playing with her sticker book or Legos next to the meetings. She has flip cards that she loves with the alphabet. If we want to keep this up for three weeks, we definitely have to find a little more rhythm, ”Zweiner told Capital Tonight as she played with Lark in her hotel room.
Texas State Rep. Erin Zweiner, D-Driftwood, with daughter Lark. (Spectrum News 1)
Zweiner said she doesn’t want to be away from her daughter either, and there are no childcare options that fit in with her husband’s home schedule.
“It’s not that easy. I spent a lot of time this morning looking for short term childcare options for her just so she could have some space to hang out with other kids, ”she said.
Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, and her 26-year-old partner were due to get married at Texas House on Thursday, which was also her birthday.
“She said, ‘You know what, this is our family. This is what we do. Now is not the time. This is for a reason, ‘”said Israel. “I thought I couldn’t love her anymore, but I love her even more. She was just so understanding of what it was all about. This is important. It’s a big deal. “
Loved ones stay in the mind as state lawmakers also have to juggle remote working on their full-time jobs. Israel, a broker who met with clients on the trip, said the reality of being far from Texas is beginning.
“We’re here for a few weeks, but it’s good to be with friends and my legislative family. We care a lot for each other and we will take care of each other, ”said Israel.
Rep. John Bucy, D-Cedar Park, knew he and his family in central Texas would be tempted to return before the end of the special session. Bucy was part of the marathon hearing on the latest version of the electoral law and spoke to his wife about escaping to Washington.
“I knew my biggest challenge would be missing my daughter, so my wife and daughter were soldiers. At the last minute they agreed to get in the car, we did the 23 hour drive. Having her here gives me encouragement and strength, ”said Bucy.
While they have left their families and work commitments and have been criticized by Republicans for their extreme measures, Texan lawmakers believe their sacrifices are upheld.
“These meetings were incredibly inspiring and hopeful. I’ve given each and every one of them more hope that we can pass laws at the federal level. I’m sure it will be a compromise like all laws are, ”said Bucy.
Bucy and his democratic colleagues also think about future generations. In less than 20 years, Zwiener’s daughter will be able to vote, so Lark’s presence serves as a reminder.
“We are fighting to preserve American democracy, and I want to make sure that it is still there when it is old enough to vote. I want its vote to be meaningful,” said Zweiner.