Democrat lawmakers from Texas left the state on Monday to avoid attending a session devoted to passing conservative voting rights legislation, then held a press conference in D.C. pleading with federal congresspeople and the president to back them up by passing nationwide voting rights legislation.
The Texas legislature convened last week after Governor Greg Abbot requested a special session. The session was going to focus on conservative legislation regarding voting laws, in particular banning drive-thru voting and limiting mail-in voting. On Monday, at least 50 of the 67 Democratic representatives flew out of Texas to Washington D.C. with no planned return date.
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The Texas Democrats released a statement on Monday saying, “Today, Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.” The Texas Democrats broke quorum in May before the end of the session for similar reasons.
This time, the governor has threatened to arrest the lawmakers upon their return to Texas. On Monday he tweeted, “Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the #txlege inflicts harm on the Texans who elected them to serve. As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts & our state. It’s time to get back to work.” The Texas legislature is unable to conduct business or pass legislation with this many members absent.
There are hopes that the absence will cause Rebublican lawmakers to reconsider. They are also hoping to garner national attention, which would give them leverage to toss the conservative legislation. The absent members requested that the clerk lock their voting machines until they return.