By Jack Phillips
Democrat lawmakers in Texas will walk out in a bid to deny Republicans the quorum they need to convene a special legislative session called by the governor as GOP lawmakers seek to pass an election overhaul bill.
Several news outlets on Monday cited anonymous sources for the planned walkout, but it was confirmed by Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa on Monday in a statement.
“Today, by breaking quorum to block [Gov. Greg] Abbott’s attacks on voters, Texas Democrats are making history,” Hinojosa said in the statement. “After Abbott dragged lawmakers back to the Capitol for his suppression session, Democrats are fighting back with everything we’ve got.”
Several Democrat lawmakers in the House confirmed the walkout and “stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote,” reads a joint statement from Democrat Texas Reps. Chris Turner, Rafael Anchia, Nicole Collier, Garnet Coleman, and Dean Senfronia Thompson.
Democrats on May 30 employed a similar tactic and staged a walkout of the state Capitol, denying Republicans the ability to pass two election bills. Abbott, a Republican, then announced he would convene a special legislative session to pass the voting measure as well as measures targeting bail and critical race theory.
In a strongly-worded statement on Monday, Abbott said Democrats’ decision “inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve” and said the lawmakers are leaving “undone issues that can help their districts and our state” as they “fly across the country on cushy private planes.”
The governor was apparently responding to anonymously sourced reports some state Democrats would be flying to Washington D.C. on chartered flights.
Monday’s decision came as a Texas state House committee on Sunday voted to advance a bill that would bring back a number of voting integrity-related proposals that didn’t pass during the previous session. Later that day, Senate lawmakers advanced their version of the voting legislation in a committee vote.
Republicans have described the two voting overhaul bills as necessary to combat irregularities and fraud.
“By and large, individual voters are trying to vote. They’re trying to do the right thing,” Republican State Sen. Bryan Hughes said, according to KWTX. “We want them to do that. The security measures in this bill, by and large, are directed at vote harvesters or folks who are trying to steal votes.”
In comments to Fox News on Sunday, Abbott said the election bills are an attempt to “make it easier to vote by adding more hours in early voting than we have in current law, but also making it harder to cheat with regard to mail-in ballots.”