At least 58 Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives are planning to leave the state on Monday to block a voting reform bill and flee to Washington, D.C., where they will seek to rally support for the passage of the For the People Act.
According to NBC News, “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, the source said. Others will make their own way.”
“The lawmakers risk arrest in taking flight. Under the Texas Constitution, the Legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers be present to conduct state business in either chamber,” the report added.
“Absent lawmakers can be legally compelled to return to the Capitol, and the source said Democrats expect state Republicans to ask the Department of Public Safety to track them down.”
“At least 58 Texas Democrats are leaving the state to deny Republicans a quorum and block a vote on GOP-sponsored voter suppression legislation,” More Perfect Union tweeted. “They’re expected to fly to D.C. to rally Congress to pass the #ForThePeopleAct.”
BREAKING: At least 58 Texas Democrats are leaving the state to deny Republicans a quorum and block a vote on GOP-sponsored voter suppression legislation.
They’re expected to fly to D.C. to rally Congress to pass the #ForThePeopleAct.
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) July 12, 2021
“Legislation is moving in the #txlege that extends voting hours & decreases the potential of fraud through mail-in ballots,” Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted on Sunday.
“Texas will make it easier to vote & harder to cheat.”
Legislation is moving in the #txlege that extends voting hours & decreases the potential of fraud through mail-in ballots.
Texas will make it easier to vote & harder to cheat. pic.twitter.com/aRFOaNbYO5
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 11, 2021
Abbott also issued a proclamation last week announcing a special legislative session to address election integrity, among other issues.
“The 87th Legislative Session was a monumental success for the people of Texas, but we have unfinished business to ensure that Texas remains the most exceptional state in America,” Abbott said in a statement.
“Two of my emergency items, along with other important legislation, did not make it to my desk during the regular session, and we have a responsibility to finish the job on behalf of all Texans.”
I've outlined a list of Special Session priority items that put TX first. I look forward to working with the #txlege as we build a brighter future for all Texans.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 7, 2021
“These Special Session priority items put the people of Texas first and will keep the Lone Star State on a path to prosperity,” the governor further noted. “I look forward to working with my partners in the Legislature to pass this legislation as we build a brighter future for all who call Texas home.”
Abbott’s special session agenda identified 11 issues. Among the topics noted is election integrity, a key reason behind the special session. Democrats walked out on the final day of the regular session to keep a vote on voting reform from moving forward.
Although the Texas state Senate approved the bill on the Saturday before the regular session ended in May, the House was deliberating the next day as the legislative clock ran down. The legislative session in Texas — an eventful one by any measure — ended at midnight.
Democrats walked out at about 10:45 p.m. local time on May 30, meaning the House did not have the 100 members necessary for a quorum. It then had to adjourn, according to CNN.
Sawyer Hackett, executive director of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro’s People First Future group, tweeted a photo of the chamber in a post that referred to the legislation as a “voter suppression bill.”
WOW. Dozens of Texas House Democrats walked out of the chamber to break quorum on SB7, Republicans’ voter suppression bill.
Only an hour and change until the session expires. pic.twitter.com/V8ojDV4EBj
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) May 31, 2021
Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan said the decision by Democrats to abruptly leave the chamber killed several bills Democrats had joined Republicans in supporting.
“Texans shouldn’t have to pay the consequences of these members’ actions — or in this case, inaction,” he said, adding that the majority of Texans support “making our elections stronger and more secure,” according to The Washington Post.