Dozens of Democratic lawmakers were in Washington on Tuesday (July 13), having left Texas the previous day as part of a move to derail their Republican colleagues’ efforts to pass new voting restrictions and other conservative measures during a special legislative session.
Texas is one of a number of Republican-led states pushing new voting restrictions in the name of enhancing election security, citing former President Donald Trump’s false claims that his November election defeat was the result of widespread fraud.
“I’m not going to be a hostage – as my constituents rights (are) stripped from them,” Texas state Representative Senfronia Thompson said at a news conference with members of congress in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Thompson said Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s new proposed measures were based on “a lie.”
“Trump lost the election and they need to tell the people of this country the truth. And if they won’t, I’m going to,” Thompson said.
The exodus is intended to deny the legislature the quorum needed to approve any of the measures on Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s special-session agenda.
Texas legislators and President Joe Biden’s administration are pushing Congress to pass legislation that protects the right to vote. So far, Senate Republicans have not backed the legislation, likely dooming it.
Biden will discuss steps the administration plans to take to shore up voting rights in a speech on Tuesday, the White House said.
On Sunday (July 11), House and Senate committees in the Texas legislature passed new versions of the voting measures, which would prohibit drive-through and 24-hour voting locations, add new identification requirements to mail-in voting and empower partisan poll watchers.
Votes in the full chambers were expected this week. Instead, Democrats bolted.
(Production: Deborah Gembara)