Texas Democrats leave state in bid to block GOP voting restrictions: NPR


Texas lawmakers gather for hearings on bail reform and election bills at the Texas State Capitol on Saturday in Austin.

Tamir Khalifa / Getty Images

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Tamir Khalifa / Getty Images

Texas lawmakers gather for hearings on bail reform and election bills at the Texas State Capitol on Saturday in Austin.

Tamir Khalifa / Getty Images

Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives announced Monday that they are leaving the state in a second impeachment bid Controversial Republican Party Legislation Which critics criticized and described as voter suppression.

Democrats, trying to break a quorum again and stop voting Senate Bill 1 And the Bill House 3, they said they were headed to Washington, D.C., where they planned to lobby for federal voter protection.

“Today, Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives stand united in our decision to break a quorum and refuse to allow the Republican-led legislature to be empowered through dangerous legislation that would trample Texas’ freedom to vote,” a statement from House Democratic leaders read. “Now we’re taking the fight to our nation’s Capitol. We live in lost time in Texas. We need Congress to move now to pass a bill for the people and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect Texas – and all Americans – from Trump’s Republican war on democracy nationwide. “.

The statement was attributed to Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner, Mexican-American Legislature Speaker Rafael Ancia, Black Texas Legislature Chair Nicole Collier, Representative Garnet Coleman and Representative Sinfonia Thompson.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa confirmed the news, describing the Republican Party’s efforts to change voting laws as “an escalation of their attacks on voters.”

“There is no democracy without the right to vote,” Hinojosa said. “Once again, Democrats stand strong and united to defend the right of every eligible voter in Texas to be heard. I am so proud of the Texas Democratic legislators, who continue to fight relentlessly on behalf of Texas, the electorate, and democracy.”

Governor Greg Abbott’s office did not immediately comment on Monday.

The two priority bills for Texas Republicans would ban 24-hour voting, make mail-in voting more difficult, increase criminal penalties for voting errors, and give partisan poll monitors more power at voting sites.

It was not immediately clear if lawmakers would leave the state until the end of the session, which is scheduled to run until the beginning of August. If successful, it would be the first time in 18 years that Democrats have left the state to break a quorum. In 2003, lawmakers fled to New Mexico to block Republican-led redistricting efforts.

During the voting rights “hearing” in Detroit, Vice President Harris Praise Texas Democrats, saying they showed “extraordinary courage and commitment”.

“I salute them for standing up for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their unrelated vote,” she said. “They are leaders who are walking the path so many walked before, when so many fought and so many died for our right to vote.”

Similar voting legislation was killed at the end of the regular legislative session in May when Democrats withdrew at the last minute, breaching a quorum. In response, Governor Greg Abbott Revocation of funding to the legislatureAnd put the draft voting law on the agenda of this first session of two special sessions.

In addition to the vote bill, the withdrawal would prevent the passage of other priority legislation for the Republican Party, including a measure that would Makes it difficult for people accused of crimes to get out of prison.

Abbott could put the agenda items back in a second session, planned for later this year, aimed at tackling redistricting.

Additional reporting by Andrew Schneider of Houston Public Media and David Martin Davis of Texas Public Radio.

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