Texas Republicans, irked by their Democratic colleagues who fled
the capitol Monday to block passage of a controversial
redistricting bill, issued their own red alert this week. They
called on the Department of Homeland Security to track down the
The Republicans hired the Air and Marine Interdiction and
Coordination Center?a Riverside, California, agency operating under
the Department of Homeland Security?to locate the 51 Democrats.
According to a report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the
agency tracked an aircraft belonging to former House Speaker Pete
Laney. Laney?s plane led Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick to
the Ardmore, Oklahoma, Holiday Inn, where most of the group was
The 51 Democrats left the capitol in Austin to prevent the
passage of a bill in the Republican-controlled House that would
eliminate five Texas Democrats from the U.S. Congress.
Once the legislators? whereabouts were determined, Craddick
asked U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to send the FBI and U.S.
Marshals to apprehend them. The task was ultimately assigned to
three divisions of the Texas DPS?the state troopers, Texas Rangers,
and the Special Crimes unit. Although the truant legislators have
broken no laws, DPS officers have the authority to arrest them and
return them to the House in order to meet the requisite quorum.
Despite the harassment of legislators? family and staff, only one
House member, Rep. Helen Giddings, has been apprehended.