Texas Gov. Abbott vows to arrest Democratic lawmakers who staged walkout

Texas Governor Greg Abbot points at the camera with a stern expression.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott said Democratic lawmakers who fled Texas in a walkout would be arrested.
  • Democrats left en masse on Monday to block conservative bills in a legislative special session.
  • Two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed in Texas.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gov. Greg Abbott promised that Democratic lawmakers who staged a walkout in Texas would be arrested.

Speaking to KVUE on Monday, the two-term Republican criticized Democratic lawmakers who fled en masse to block several conservative bills from passing in a legislative special session.

“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” he said.

Democratic leaders in the Texas House said on Monday that they had flown to Washington, DC, to “refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.”

Under Texas law, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed.

Abbott convened the special session earlier this month to pass a litany of conservative priorities, including legislation targeting voting, abortion access, transgender rights, and critical race theory.

The marquee issue is a restrictive voting bill that Republican lawmakers have sought largely in response to President Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden.

The bill would modify early-voting hours, curb the 24/7 voting centers that were popular with shift workers in Democratic-leaning Harris County in last year’s presidential election, and scrap straight-ticket voting, among other measures.

Democratic state senators on Friday introduced a bill called the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act, named after the revered Black senator, designed to expand access to voting, allowing for online and same-day voter registration, among other measures, according to The Dallas Morning News.

However, the GOP-dominated Legislature is unlikely to take up that bill.

While no Democratic state senators had accompanied their House counterparts to the nation’s capital as of Tuesday, a Democratic official said several senators might travel there, according to The New York Times.

Abbott told KVUE that he would not relent from carrying out his legislative objectives.

The governor said he would “continue to call special session after special session” until Democratic lawmakers are present.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Texas Democrats reportedly weigh leaving state to block Republican-led voting bill

Texas Democrats
Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) speaks alongside members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus and voting-rights advocates during a rally outside of the Texas State Capitol on July 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

  • Texas Democratic lawmakers have weighed leaving the state over the GOP election bill, per the NYT.
  • In May, Democrats were able to temporarily halt passage of the bill by denying Republicans a quorum.
  • Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has made the election overhaul a top priority this year.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Texas Democratic lawmakers are reportedly weighing a decision to leave the state to block a Republican-backed election overhaul from passing, according to The New York Times.

Individuals with knowledge of the situation told The Times that there have been talks surrounding how Democrats could leave the state to protest the new voting restrictions, but it would only be a temporary maneuver.

The lawmakers who support leaving the state have argued that the action “would bring a renewed spotlight to voting rights in Texas” and put pressure on Democrats in the US Senate to enact federal voting reforms, according to several Democratic lawmakers who spoke with The Times.

However, a contingent of Democrats oppose leaving the state, calling on members to remain at the state Capitol in Austin and battle with Republicans over the bill.

Texas House Democrats on Friday tussled with several options – leaving Texas for a month, which would prevent Republicans from having a quorum; staying in the Lone Star State and seeking amendments to weaken the bill; or allowing a vote and making a decision on how to proceed while the bill is being hashed out by the state House and Senate.

Read more: 20 sought-after female political strategists to watch as more women in the US enter politics

Texas Democratic senators on Friday filed the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act, named after the revered Black congresswoman who served in the US House from 1973 to 1979, which would expand access to voting, allowing for online and same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration, among other measures, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The actions come as Texas legislators enter a special session to pass the election overhaul that failed in May after House Democrats denied Republicans a quorum and temporarily halted passage of the bill.

In response to the move, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott effectively defunded the Texas legislature.

However, Texas legislators have moved to restore the funding, according to The Texas Tribune.

The Republican election overhaul modifies early voting hours, curbs the 24-7 voting centers that were popular with shift workers in last year’s presidential election, and scraps straight-ticket voting, among other rules.

The legislation could be passed as soon as Tuesday, according to The Times.

After former President Donald Trump’s loss to now-President Joe Biden, Republican legislators across the country sought to enact a wide range of voting restrictions, under pressure from the former president and conservative activists to prioritize election integrity, despite there being no verifiable evidence of mass fraud in the 2020 election.

Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, Sun Belt states that are competitive on the presidential level, have all passed controversial voting bills this year.

Last month, the Department of Justice announced that it was suing the state of Georgia over its new voting law, SB 202, citing “racially discriminatory provisions.”

“The right to vote is one of the most central rights in our democracy and protecting the right to vote for all Americans is at the core of the Civil Rights Division’s mission,” said Kristen Clarke, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will use all the tools it has available to ensure that each eligible citizen can register, cast a ballot, and have that ballot counted free from racial discrimination. Laws adopted with a racially motivated purpose, like Georgia Senate Bill 202, simply have no place in democracy today.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says that Republicans ‘want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election’

Hakeem Jeffries
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries slammed the proposed Texas voting bill as “shameful.”
  • After Trump’s 2020 loss, GOP lawmakers across the country have enacted new barriers to voting.
  • President Joe Biden on Saturday blasted the legislation in Texas, calling it “un-American.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York on Sunday blasted the restrictive Texas voting bill on the cusp of being signed into law, arguing that Republicans in the Lone Star State and across the country “want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election.”

During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, slammed Republicans for pushing to enact a wave of new voting restrictions.

“The Texas law is shameful, and Republicans clearly in Texas and throughout the country want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election,” he said. “That’s the only way that I can interpret the voter suppression epidemic that we see working its way from one state, Georgia to Arizona to Texas, and all across the country, in so many different ways.”

He added: “Fundamental to our democracy is the right to vote, self-government, that the American people get to decide and work for a democracy that reflects the voices of all Americans, not just a certain segment, not just conservatives, not just Republicans, not just people in certain parts of the country, all Americans.”

The GOP-controlled Texas state Senate passed a massive elections bill in the early Sunday morning hours, according to The Texas Tribune, which would ban drive-thru voting voting and uninterrupted early voting, tighten ID requirements for mail-in ballots, and limit early voting hours, among other measures.

The GOP focus on early voting is significant because 24-hour voting was popular among many blue-collar and shift workers in the vote-rich, Democratic-dominated city of Houston, the county seat of Harris County.

Read more: A multitude of Trump-era mysteries are poised to come roaring back into the headlines. Everyone involved is bracing for what happens after that.

If the state Senate bill is approved by the state House, it will then head to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, who strongly supports the legislation.

President Joe Biden on Saturday blasted the legislation, calling it “un-American.”

“Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote,” he said in a statement. “It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year – and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.”

He added: “It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.”

Biden then urged lawmakers to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which both face difficult roads in the Senate due to the threat of GOP filibusters.

For months, Democrats have delivered blistering criticism regarding similar legislation in Georgia and Florida, arguing that the restrictive voting bills are unnecessary and a result of former President Donald Trump’s election lies.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A sweeping new GOP voting restriction bill in Texas is an ‘assault on democracy’ and ‘un-American,’ says President Biden

Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden speaks on the economy at Cuyahoga Community College Manufacturing Technology Center, on May 27, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • President Joe Biden characterized a new voting restriction bill in Texas as an “assault on democracy.”
  • GOP-backed voting bills, said Biden, are “disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.”
  • The bill finalized by lawmakers in Texas restricts the times and methods voters can use to cast ballots.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden criticized a bill being finalized by Texas lawmakers that would impose sweeping restrictions on voting as an “assault on democracy” and “un-American” in a statement Saturday.

The bill would see drive-thru voting banned, empower partisan poll watchers, limit voting on Sundays when many Black church-goers cast ballots, and make it easier to overturn election results in situations where there is no evidence of widespread fraud affecting the result.

“Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote. It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year-and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans,” Biden said in a statement.

“It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote,” he added.

The bill in Texas is the latest in a series of moves by Republican state legislatures to restrict access to voting.

In Georgia, a voting restriction bill passed in March led to criticism from corporations including Coca-Cola and Delta. Restrictive measures have also been introduced by GOP-controlled legislatures in Florida and Arizona.

Critics say the bills are designed to impede Black voters and have been likened to Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the South.

Republicans in Texas say the laws are necessary to increase trust in the integrity of the elections, though no evidence of widespread fraud was found in last year’s presidential election in the state, reported the Texas Tribune.

The bill is expected to pass ahead of the end of the state’s legislative session on Sunday.

The push for voting restrictions has been given impetus by former president Donald Trump’s groundless claims that last year’s elections were tainted by widespread fraud.

Sen. Bryan Hughes and state Rep. Briscoe Cain, the main sponsors of the bill, defended the restrictions in a statement Saturday.

“Even as the national media minimizes the importance of election integrity, the Texas Legislature has not bent to headlines or corporate virtue signaling,” they said in a joint statement.

Read the original article on Business Insider