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    Texas Republicans Call on Department of Homeland Security to Locate Truant Democrats

    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
    truants.

    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
    staying.

    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.

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    Published on May 1, 2003

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