Texas GOP’s Push For Voting Restrictions Halted As Democrats Walk Out Of House Floor

Topline

A sweeping voting restriction bill backed the Texas Republicans failed to pass on Sunday night after Democrats walked out of the House floor before a midnight deadline, temporarily halting the progression of one of the most stringent voter restriction efforts in the country.

Key Facts

The walkout by the Democrats left the Republicans—who hold a majority in the Texas House of Representatives—without the 100 members necessary for a quorum they needed to approve the bill before a midnight deadline.

Texas’ Republican Governor immediately tweeted that he will call a special session to try passing the voting bill again, but did not mention when.

Earlier on Sunday morning, the Republican-majority Texas Senate approved the voting bill—known as Senate Bill 7—following an overnight debate.

According to CNN, Chris Turner, the House Democratic Caucus chair, texted members at 10.35 pm local time to take their keys and leave the chamber discretely.

Turner said that dozens of House Democrats were prepared to give speeches objecting to the bill and claimed they were forced to take “extraordinary measures” after the Republicans moved to cut off debate.

After exiting the house floor, the Democrats gathered at a predominantly Black church in Austin, Mt. Zion Fellowship Hall—which was chosen to highlight the fact that the bill targeted voters of color in particular, the Washington Post reported.

Crucial Quote

Late last week, President Joe Biden criticized the bill in a statement: “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. It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.”

Key Background

Texas is among several major battlegrounds in the Republican party’s efforts to enact voter restriction laws, driven primarily by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 elections were stolen from him. States like Georgia, Florida and Arizona have already passed such measures. The Texas bill, seen as one the most stringent, aimed to make mail-in voting more difficult, eliminate drive-thru voting and 24-hour early voting centers. Senate Bill 7 also contained provisions that would make it easier to overturn an election—by no longer requiring evidence that voter fraud actually altered the outcome of a race, instead allowing courts to throw out results if enough ballots were cast illegally that it could have made a difference.

Further Reading

Texas Democrats leave the House floor, effectively blocking passage of restrictive voting bill for now (CNN)

Texas Democrats abandon House floor, blocking passage of voting bill before final deadline (Texas Tribune)

Texas Democrats block restrictive voting bill by walking off the floor to deny GOP-majority House a quorum (Washington Post)



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