Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Says 'AWOL' Democrats to Be Arrested 'When They Hit the Ground'

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said Tuesday the state's House Democrats who fled to Washington in order to halt an election bill vote will be issued arrest warrants "when they hit the ground" back in the Lone Star State.

Patrick ripped the Texas House Democrats for what he described as a disingenuous departure in which they are trying to come off as "brave souls" fighting for voting rights. Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott both said Tuesday that Texas has more early voting options than Delaware; Washington, D.C.; and other Democrat-controlled areas. Patrick said the Texas state Democrats are "nothing more than anarchists" who are running from a fight.

When asked Tuesday by Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer how the issue gets "resolved," Patrick said the political theatrics will end with the House issuing arrest warrants for Democrats and then passing the election bills.

"Well Bill, they have to come home eventually. And when they come home I believe the House will put out an order for their arrest if they don't return to the [Texas] Capitol," Patrick said. "Because once they hit the ground in Texas, they can be arrested and brought back to the Capitol. And some time they're going to have to return, whenever it is. And whenever it is, we're going to pass this bill out of the House."

"It has nothing to do with voter suppression," Patrick added to Fox News Tuesday. "What you just heard [from House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol] were not only lies, they were damned lies. And this idea that they are fighting for Texas? Give me a break, you don't run from a fight."

Patrick's remarks come just hours after Abbott vowed to have the 58 "runaways" arrested whenever they return to Austin, Texas. The GOP governor accused the Democratic state lawmakers of jetting to Washington on chartered private jets that cost around $100,000. Photographs showed a case of Miller Lite beer on the Democrats' bus to the airport. Patrick said he believes D.C. Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer paid for the Texas Democrats' "vacation."

But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the new Texas voting laws are "the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War."

Numerous Texas Democratic state lawmakers, including James Talarico and Senfronia Thompson, were seen posing for pictures outside the private jets which took them from Austin to Washington.

Among the controversial Texas election bills are laws aimed at reducing the number of voting hours from 24 hours a day to between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Additionally, there will be increased criminal penalties for any individual who helps voters at the polls or in the mail-in voting process. But so-called "poll watchers"—who Democrats say are purely on-site to intimidate voters—can no longer be removed from a site even if they are seen violating election laws.

Both Abbott and Patrick have reiterated this week that Texas has 12 days of early voting and that two of the current bills being fought by state Democrats actually increase the number of daily early voting hours from eight to nine. The two repeatedly said the aim of the election bills is "transparency."

Patrick noted that D.C. and President Joe Biden's home state of Delaware have fewer early voting options than Texas. He also cited Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey as having fewer early voting hours.

"This is just dereliction of duty, they are AWOL," Patrick concluded. "It really bothers me down to my core for them to think they are some brave souls. If this were the Alamo they would have been the first people over the wall when they saw trouble coming."

Newsweek reached out to Patrick's office for additional remarks Tuesday afternoon.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said that the state's House Democrats who fled to Washington in order to halt an election bill vote will be issued arrest warrants when they return to the state. Above, Patrick addresses the crowd ahead of a rally in support of GOP Sen. Ted Cruz n October 22, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston. Loren Elliott/Getty Images