Over 50 Texas Democrats Literally Hopped On A Plane To Prevent The GOP From Passing A Voting Restrictions Bill
The legislators plan to stay out of town for the next three weeks.
July 14, 2021 at 1:55 pm
In an effort to block Republicans from passing controversial election laws, Democratic state legislators in Texas fled the state to deny the House a chance to pass legislation that's being criticized as a blatant attempt at voter suppression.
According to NBC News, at least 51 members of Congress took off on a pair of charter jets and arrived at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Monday. By leaving town, the Democrats are denying the House a quorum, which is the minimal number of congresspersons needed in-session to pass a bill. The Democrats, who vowed to stay in town through August to run out the clock on the special session, are urging Congress to pass federal legislation to protect voting rights.
According to the Texas Constitution, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present to conduct state business in either chamber. However, lawmakers who are absent can be legally compelled to return to the Capitol.
"Our democracy is on the line," state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer told NBC News. "It became very clear to us that this weekend that any attempts to negotiate some Democratic concessions were cut off, making it very clear that Republicans were hellbent on having it their way."
ON BOARD: Texas Democrats on their way to D.C., where they plan to stay for more than three weeks to deny the state House a quorum pic.twitter.com/hTE0mfxveZ
— Jane C. Timm (@janestreet) July 12, 2021
While in D.C., the group plans to urge Congress to pass the For The People Act, a bill which seeks to protect Americans from the voter suppression attempts the Democrats fled the state to block.
"Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the Texas Legislature and abandon the Texas State Capitol inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve," Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said. "As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state."
Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan vowed to "use every available resource under the Texas Constitution and the unanimously-passed House Rules to secure a quorum."
"The special session clock is ticking," Phelan added.
According to Politico, Republicans are rushing to pass bills which contain similar provisions as SB7, the election legislation that failed earlier in the year. Similar to the efforts of lawmakers in Georgia, who aimed to pass new legislation after former president Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection last year, Texas Republicans are looking to impose stricter policies for absentee ballots and also striving to enforce new limits on election officials.
As Democrats now flee in the state in an effort to block a quorum for the special session, Republicans are pointing to the state House law which outlines consequences for absent legislatures. It would also impose harsh consequences for anyone who even slightly violate election laws in the state.
Vice President Kamala Harris, however, supports the Texas Democrats.
"I applaud those standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote, unencumbered," Harris said. "They are leaders who are marching in the path that so many others before did, when they fought — and many died — for our right to vote."
State Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), the chair of the state House Democratic caucus, said his colleagues are "determined to kill this bill in this special session, which will end on Aug. 7."
"We will stay out until then in order to do that," Turner said.