WASHINGTON, July 13 (Reuters) – Texas Democratic lawmakers defied appeals for their arrest on Tuesday, a day after fleeing their state to thwart efforts to pass voting restrictions, and said they would stay behind. Washington to push for federal voting reform.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, vowed to arrest more than 50 Democratic lawmakers who left the state on Monday, denying the state House of Representatives the quorum required to approve voting limits and d other measures included in the agenda of its extraordinary session. Read more
The remaining Texas House members voted 76 to 4 on Tuesday morning to send for missing lawmakers under a House rule that allows the House Sergeant-at-Arms to search and arrest absent members.
“As soon as they return to the state of Texas, they will be arrested,” Abbott said in an interview with local television station KVUE ABC. “They will be locked inside the Texas Capitol until they have done their job.”
Abbott has pledged to continue calling for special sessions “until next year’s election” to pass the voting bill.
Texas is one of several Republican-led states pursuing new voting restrictions in the name of improving election security. Former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the presidential election last November was stolen from him by widespread fraud.
Texas House and Senate committees on Sunday passed new versions of the voting measures, which would ban drive-thru and 24-hour voting locations, add new identification requirements to postal voting, and allow postal voting. partisan poll observers.
The Texas Senate passed its version of the voting law on Tuesday. But the exodus of Democratic lawmakers from the House put an end to the work, with Democrats who left vowing to stay in Washington indefinitely.
“Our intention is to stay out and kill this bill this session,” Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner said at a press conference outside the United States Capitol, where dozens of Texas Democratic lawmakers broke into the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”
Special legislative sessions can last up to 30 days in Texas, which means the current session must end on August 7. There is no limit to the number of special sessions a governor can call.
Texas State Representative Alex Dominguez said he was prepared to stay away from Texas even if Abbott continued to call special sessions after the current one ended. Dominguez said he was not deterred by the threat of arrest.
“If that’s what they choose to do, then we’ll be ready,” Dominguez said.
Abbott called the special session after Democratic lawmakers staged a walkout on May 30, just before the regular session ended, to boycott a vote on an earlier version of election legislation. Read more
Turner said Texas lawmakers would use their time in Washington “to implore the people in this building behind us to pass federal voting rights legislation.”
DEMOCRATS PRAISE LEGISLATORS
Meeting with lawmakers, Vice President Kamala Harris compared their exodus to other notable moments of suffrage activism in American history. L1N2OP1SY
“I know that what you have done comes with great sacrifices, both personal and political,” she said.
In Philadelphia, President Joe Biden said in a speech that passing sweeping voting rights legislation was a “national imperative,” but he did not chart a course to overcome Republican opposition. Read more
Republican resistance in the US Senate to such reforms has increased pressure on Democrats, who tightly control the chamber, to pursue parliamentary action that would allow them to pass sweeping simple majority voting rights legislation. . Otherwise, Republicans can block them with a maneuver called obstruction.
US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, also met with a group of Texas Democrats on Tuesday and told them they would be remembered for being “on the right side of history.” He did not discuss specific strategies for passing federal voting expansion laws, according to Turner.
When asked in a hallway on Capitol Hill if he would meet with Democratic lawmakers from Texas, Republican US Senator John Cornyn of Texas replied, “Not if I can help him.”
Reporting by Julia Harte in New York; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and David Morgan in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Will Dunham, Paul Simao, David Gregorio and Sonya Hepinstall
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