Texas Democratic lawmakers are headed to Washington D.C. in an effort to block restrictive voting bills proposed by Republicans in their state.
The lawmakers risk being arrested. The Texas Constitution requires two-thirds of lawmakers to be present in either chamber to conduct state business. Lawmakers can be “legally compelled” to return to the State Capitol.
At least 51 Democratic members traveled to Washington D.C. on two charter jets. Seven others are en route.
The legislators will spend three weeks in the nation’s capital to wait out the end of the special legislative session in Texas.
While in Washington, the lawmakers will campaign for the For The People Act. The bill expands voting, changes campaign finance laws, establishes ethical rules for federal officeholders, and limits gerrymandering.
“Our democracy is on the line,” Representative Trey Martinez Fischer said. “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.”
“We’re in this for the long haul. We know the eyes on the nation are on Texas,” Martinez Fischer said. “We want to rally the nation, and we want the United States Senat to hear us and to act by passing the For The People Act.”
The Texas Democrats are being praised for their bold actions to establish the bill as official law.
Vice President Kamala Harris said she applauded the lawmakers for “standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote, unencumbered. They are leaders who are marching in the path that so many others before them did.”
.@VP shouts out the Texas Democratic lawmakers:
“I applaud them standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote, unencumbered. They are leaders who are marching in the path that so many others before them did” pic.twitter.com/MWJYkU9Uw8
— Poli Alert (@polialertcom) July 12, 2021
“Texas Republicans have proven time and tagin they care more about winning primaries than solving actual problems for Texans, so I’m really proud of Texas Democrats for taking bold action. We do need federal legislation now, so Texas Democrats are taking on immense risk to try and push that forward and keep this awful voter suppression legislation from becoming law,” Carisa Lopez, political director of the civil liberties group Texas Freedom Network.
Sarah Labowitz, policy and advocacy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, says that the lawmaker’s reaction is a direct response to the Governor’s refusal to listen.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott is slamming the group’s actions.
“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,” Abbott said. “As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state.”
In May, State House Democrats successfully delayed the restrictive voting bills by leaving the State House while a legislative session was ongoing.