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Tag: texas house democrats

Abbott Threatens Texas Lawmakers With Arrest When They Return

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Texas Democrats left the state on Monday as a last stand for voting rights, preventing the state House from having the quorum it needs for Republicans to pass a voter suppression bill, along with an attack on transgender students, during a special session of the legislature. The Democrats—at least 51 of them—said they'll stay out of Texas until the special session ends August 6. But they need Congress to act.

Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened that "As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done." Abbott can call another special session to get the Republican legislation passed. Ultimately, Texas Republicans have the power to force just about any law through that they want, and right now, they want to make it hard for Black and brown people to vote.

"Our message to Congress," said state Rep. Chris Turner, is that "We need them to act now."

In every public statement he's made, Abbott has painted the Democrats as taking a "taxpayer-paid junket" using "cushy private planes." The Democrats, many of whom have left children behind, are pushing back on that to highlight their urgent message to Congress.

"This is not a vacation," said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. "This is not a junket. I don't want a single U.S. senator to go home for the August recess thinking that everything is completely fine with voting rights in America. We're here to present the case that it is not." (Pssst … Sen. Manchin, Sen. Sinema, I think he's talking to you.)

Senate Democrats including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Cory Booker, Alex Padilla, and Kirsten Gillibrand are meeting with the Texans. Vice President Kamala Harris praised their "extraordinary courage and commitment."

"I do believe that fighting for the right to vote is as American as apple pie. It is so fundamental to fighting for the principles of our democracy," said Harris.

Abbott is not the only Republican to slam the Democrats for blocking a quorum. "It's not very Texan," according to Sen. John Cornyn. "You stay and you fight."

Well, they're not done fighting. They just took the fight somewhere else, rather than staying in a 100 percent unwinnable fight. As for the other senator from Texas ...

Texas Democrats Leave State To Thwart Passage Of Voter Suppression Bills

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Democrats are going to have nothing to do with the special session Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called. That's because he's not trying to deal with critical issues like COVID-19 or fixing the state's broken and fatal electrical grid, but to "to prioritize 11 issues that largely appeal to conservatives who wanted more out of the regular session." That includes the new voting restriction bills blocked previously by Democrats, as well as banning critical race theory in education, and transgender student athletes from playing sports.

At least 58 Texas House Democrats have left the state to deny a quorum and block these bills, particularly the voting restrictions. "The majority of the members plan to fly to Washington, D.C., on two private jets chartered for the occasion and use the time there to rally support for federal voting legislation," a source told NBC. Others plan to go to D.C. as well, by other means.

What are they going to do in D.C. to convince lawmakers there to deal with voter suppression? "Literally anything," NBC reports. [EDITOR'S UPDATE: On Monday evening the Texas lawmakers arrived at Dulles International Airport near the nation's capital.]

The two new voter restriction bills Texas Republicans are bringing would, among other things: Ban drive-thru early voting; ban 24-hour early voting locations by setting limits of 6 AM to either 9 or 10 PM; add new voter ID requirements for absentee voting; prohibit local officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters or using public funds to help third parties to do so; enable partisan "poll watchers" to potentially harass and intimidate voters while limiting their oversight by election officials by imposing criminal penalties for getting in their way. They debated the bills in hearings on Saturday, and on Sunday the Senate committee voted strictly on party lines 6-3 to pass the bill out to reach the floor Tuesday. The House followed suit with overnight hearings, passing their bill out on a party-line 9-5 vote.

The voter suppression they intend to impose on the state was reflected in these hearings, which were supposed to be open to public testimony.

"Early this morning, Republicans voted to advance a bill to ban 24-hour voting, following an overnight committee hearing that lasted nearly 24 hours," Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner said in a statement Sunday. "You just can't make this up: Republicans are passing anti-voter legislation overnight to prohibit Texans from casting a ballot overnight."

One of the people who was able to testify to the Senate was former Rep. Beto O'Rourke. "This is already the toughest state in which to vote, bar none," O'Rourke said to senators. "You are now proposing a set of restrictions in this elections bill that is going to make it that much harder for people to participate." That's certainly their plan. O'Rourke is egging Democrats on, saying he hopes that they'll "go to DC and sit on the steps of the Capitol, forcing their federal counterparts to walk by them, realizing they haven't done enough to help." Sit-ins in the offices of Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema wouldn't be amiss, either.