Texas Dems seek Homeland Security documents

House Democrats from Texas Thursday demanded the Homeland Security Department turn over any documents that could substantiate their allegations that Republicans called for federal resources to be used to track down absentee Texas state legislators involved in a congressional redistricting dispute.

Invoking the so-called "seven-member rule," Rep. Chris Bell, D-Texas, said Democrats have the statutory authority to ask for any records related to the efforts to locate Texas Democrats who fled the state last month.

"If there is nothing to hide, then why hasn't the Department of Homeland Security provided the information?" Bell asked. "The American people deserve to have these questions answered, and we intend to get those answers."

In a Wednesday letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Bell and Government Reform ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., joined five other panel Democrats asking for the information. Democrats claim the department is required under federal law to respond to any requests made by seven members of the Government Reform Committee.

Democrats have attempted to link Texas Republicans and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, with an effort to locate the Texas state House Democrats who fled Austin last month in a successful attempt to deny Republicans the quorum needed to consider a controversial redistricting plan.

The Texas constitution authorizes state law enforcement to force absentee legislators to return to Austin. But that authority did not allow Texas officials to cross state lines to retrieve the Democratic lawmakers, who had retreated to Ardmore, Okla.

A spokesman said DeLay has publicly rejected any suggestion he tried to involve the Homeland Security Department in the dispute.

"In their desperation, Democrats invented and pedaled a story that was debunked by the congressman, and we welcome efforts to set the record straight," the DeLay spokesman said.

DeLay has strongly urged Texas Republicans to throw out a court-drawn redistricting plan and replace it with a map that could net between five and seven new Republican House seats.

The Houston Chronicle reported Thursday that GOP Gov. Rick Perry has already decided to call a special 30-day session by July to take of a government reorganization bill and congressional redistricting. A Perry spokeswoman declined to confirm that report.

One Texas Democratic aide said Republican state legislators face the same obstacles they did in the regular session.

While the state House would be expected to pass the redistricting plan backed by DeLay, the aide said the Republican state Senate would have to change its rules to overcome the standing two-thirds requirement to bring any bill to the floor.

Republicans control 19 of the Senate's 31 seats, but are two votes short of the two-thirds requirement.

The aide said Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the state Senate, is not as closely tied to DeLay as is Texas state House Speaker Tom Craddick.

"One thing about the Texas state Senate is that it is not really as partisan as the state House," the aide said. "If they add redistricting, it's just a totally different and partisan thing."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.