- The Texas Senate passed a Republican-led elections reform bill Tuesday night after dozens of House Democrats fled the state to avoid voting on the measure.
- In a party-line vote, 18-4 Senate Republicans passed the controversial bill that Democrats and voters-rights advocates say will suppress the votes of people of color and those with disabilities.
- The legislation will languish unless the Texas Democrats return to the state before the end of the 30-day special session called by GOP Gov. Greg Abbott.
The Texas Senate passed a Republican-led elections reform bill Tuesday evening after dozens of House Democrats fled the state to avoid voting on the measure.
In a party-line vote of 18-4, Senate Republicans passed the controversial bill that Democrats and voters-rights advocates say will suppress the votes of people of color and those with disabilities.
As many as 58 Texas Democrats decamped to Washington, D.C., on Monday and Tuesday, in a bid to deny Republicans the quorum required to conduct business in the chamber. However, the Senate on Tuesday still maintained a quorum with 22 of its 31 members present, allowing that chamber to vote and pass Senate Bill 1.
The legislation will languish unless the Texas Democrats return to the state before the 30-day special session called by GOP Gov. Greg Abbott ends. Abbott has threatened to arrest the state lawmakers once they return, according to the Associated Press.
Texas is among several states that have enacted laws restricting voter access, which comes in the wake of former President Donald Trump's repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen through widespread voter fraud. The Democrats' departure only furthers the state and national debates over voting rights.
Among the proposals included in the bill passed Tuesday are a ban on drive-through voting, limits on 24-hour voting options and new identification requirements for absentee voters. The bill would also prohibit local officials from sending out absentee voting applications to voters not eligible to vote by mail.
Democrats argued that the bill proposed by GOP senators was an attack on voting rights meant to suppress voter turnout.
"They wouldn't be doing this if they didn't think it would have a negative outcome, particularly for Brown and Black voters in the state of Texas, and in the other states that are doing similar style legislation," said Rep. Marc Veasey, one of the Democrats who fled, in a statement Tuesday.
However, Republicans maintain the law would secure the elections process, even dubbing it as the "Texas election integrity bill."
"This bill is about making it both easy to vote and harder to cheat," said Sen. Bryan Hughes, the author of the bill, the Texas Tribune reported Tuesday.
Hughes blamed the backlash about his bill on a "horrible, misleading, false national debate coming out of Washington," according to the Tribune.
The Texas Democrats said they fled to the nation's capital to pressure Congress to pass voting rights legislation, such as the For The People Act, amid efforts by Republican-led state legislatures around the nation to reform voting rules.
"We also know that we are living on borrowed time in Texas, and we can't stay here indefinitely to run out the clock to stop Republicans' anti-voter attacks," Rep. Rhetta Bowers, another Democrat who fled, said in a statement Tuesday. "That's why we need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act. Texas Democrats will do everything in our power to fight back. But we need Congress to act now."
Vice President Kamala Harris met with the Texas Democrats on Tuesday, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is expected to meet with them as well. Manchin did not answer Tuesday when asked if he would support a carve-out in the Senate filibuster to pass voting rights legislation. He has previously opposed changes to the filibuster.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday also delivered a major speech in Philadelphia that condemned his predecessor's "Big Lie" about a stolen election. The president called on Congress to pass the For The People Act and restore the Voting Rights Act.
More than 150 companies, including Amazon, Target and PepsiCo, also backed updating the Voting Rights Act in a new letter released Wednesday, NBC News reported.
Source: Read Full Article