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Texas Dems Who Blocked Anti-Voting Rights Bill Call On Feds To Get Their "Sh*t" Together

State House democrats staged a walkout to kill a GOP-backed restrictive voting bill and are now demanding President Biden and Congress pass federal voting legislation.

Texas state Rep. Jessica Gonzales speaks during a news conference in Austin, Texas, on early Monday, May 31, 2021, after House Democrats pulled off a dramatic, last-ditch walkout and blocked one of the most restrictive voting bills in the U.S. from passing before a midnight deadline. | AP Photo/Acacia Coronado
Texas state Rep. Jessica Gonzales speaks during a news conference in Austin, Texas, on early Monday, May 31, 2021, after House Democrats pulled off a dramatic, last-ditch walkout and blocked one of the most restrictive voting bills in the U.S. from passing before a midnight deadline. | AP Photo/Acacia Coronado

Democratic lawmakers in Texas staged a dramatic walkout and successfully blocked a strict anti-voting rights bill championed by their GOP colleagues. Now, they’re asking the federal government to step in and pass federal voting legislation that remains stalled in Congress. 

Texas Republican lawmakers, along with Gov. Greg Abbott, promised to bring the legislation back with a special session, though the governor has not yet confirmed a date. 

About 60 Texas House Democrats killed the Republican-backed Senate Bill 7 late Sunday night by walking out of the House chamber and preventing a vote from happening before the midnight deadline. The sweeping bill would alter voting rules in Texas, including limiting early voting hours and placing restrictions on mail-in voting — an option millions of Americans utilized during the 2020 presidential election. The bill would also eliminate drive-through and 24-hour voting as well as make it easier for lawmakers to overturn a democratic election. 

Texas Democrats said the bill “makes it harder for seniors, people who are disabled and people of color to vote” and comes after five months of trying to “kill or weaken the dozens of Republican bills that make it harder for Texans to vote.”

Gov. Abbott (R), who backed SB 7, called the legislative session “disappointing,” and threatened to withhold pay for lawmakers who “abandon their responsibilities.” As HuffPost reported, such a withholding “would not significantly hurt lawmakers financially ― as they rely on other money ― as much as it would severely impact support staff’s income.” 

At least 48 states have introduced legislation this year to restrict voting rights, according to a Brennan Center for Justice report; the strict measures proposed in Texas most resemble those in Georgia and Florida. At least 14 states have passed laws that place new limitations on voters. After former President Donald Trump pushed the “Big Lie” about fraudulent voting practices following his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, Republicans nationwide have launched a wide-scale attack on voting rights. 

While some state lawmakers are doing what they can to block legislation, several Texas Democrats called on the federal government and Biden to step in and protect voter integrity nationwide. Moreover, Republicans control the majority of state legislatures.

Rep. James Talarico, one of the Texas Democrats to join the walkout, tweeted: “State lawmakers are holding the line. Federal lawmakers need to get their shit together and pass the For The People Act.” Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-TX) echoed Talarico by also demanding the passage of HR 1, or the For The People Act, which the House passed in March. The bill would expand voting access nationwide and tighten campaign financing and fundraising for candidates in all three branches of government. 

The federal legislation is unlikely to clear the Senate, which has a slim Democratic majority, unless lawmakers reform the filibuster — which Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have expressed apprehension about. The existing filibuster holds massive stakes for the entire Democratic agenda, including policy on police reform and the climate crisis. Republicans used it for the first time this year last week to block the establishment of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

“When you get down to it, this is gonna have a tremendous impact on voters, all voters, in the state of Texas, but just like every bad policy, Hispanics, Latinos, and Asian Americans will be disproportionately impacted,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-TX) said at a news conference after the walkout. “Once you steamroll us here in Texas, Republicans will march all across this country and take away people’s right to vote and the time is now for a national response.”

Stacey Abrams, former Georgia lawmaker and voting rights activist, as well as the ACLU of Texas applauded Texas Democrats for the walkout:

“Democratic lawmakers broke quorum in a courageous move that shows just how hard Texans will fight to protect their constitutional right to vote,” policy and advocacy director of the ACLU of Texas, Sarah Labowitz said in a statement. “The ACLU of Texas is more committed than ever to holding Texas leaders accountable for their attempts to undermine democracy. We remain vigilant against any attempt to bring back this racist bill in a special session.”

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