The most basic responsibility of any elected lawmaker is to show up and vote, even when it’s tough. I’ve been in Congress for a little more than six months now, and I have lost count of the times I’ve had to vote against legislation that is bad for my district and bad for this country. Although it is easy to get frustrated, I continue showing up to do the job I was elected to do. Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many lawmakers here in Washington and around the country fail to show up and do the job they were elected to do.
Last week, I witnessed one of the most ridiculous, cowardly acts I’ve ever seen from a group of grown adults. If you’ve been following the news, you likely saw where a group of at least 50 Texas House Democrats hopped on a plane to Washington, D.C., in a childish attempt to prevent the Texas State Legislature from meeting quorum and handling legislative business. The Texas Legislature is currently in the middle of a special session called by Republicans to consider an important election integrity bill, but this group of Democrats refuse to show up to work.
The election integrity bill being debated right now in Texas has basic provisions to ensure fairness and integrity in elections, including requiring voter ID for mail-in ballots. This law would also prohibit bureaucrats from sending unsolicited mail-in ballots to people all over the state without any questions asked. Additionally, this law would require cameras and livestream access inside counting and early voting locations, and it would require signature verification. These are simple, common-sense ways to protect everyone’s right to vote while ensuring election security and integrity, but Democrat lawmakers in Texas care more about a political stunt than reality.
These actions by Texas Democrats are far from brave and courageous. Instead of working with their colleagues to address any concerns they might have with the legislation, they are hiding out hundreds of miles from home and refusing to engage in the legislative process. Sadly, what we’re seeing out of these Democrats in Texas is not much different than what I’ve seen out of numerous Democrats here in Washington. Many of them have hardly (if at all) shown up to work since the start of this Congress on January 3. I often sit in committee hearings with just a handful of folks because so many of my colleagues across the aisle can’t even show up to work.
When the people elect you to do a job and represent them, physically running away from your basic responsibilities is neither brave nor courageous – it’s cowardly. The American people deserve better than this. The primary responsibility of an elected official is to show up to work and vote for the best interests of their constituents, and it’s way past time for these Texas Democrats to return home and end this political circus.
Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina