Texas Democrats late Sunday staged a walkout to prevent the state’s Republicans from giving final approval to a sweeping voter suppression bill.
The Democrats walked out of the House chambers an hour before the midnight deadline, denying their colleagues across the aisle the quorum they needed to send the Republican priority bill that would enforce a wide range of restrictions on voting in the state to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott.
The state’s Republican governor issued a statement afterward, saying it was “deeply disappointing” that the bill will not reach his desk and he will add it to a forthcoming special session agenda.
“Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session,” he said, adding that the bill “still must pass.
The walkout followed Rep. Chris Turner, the Democratic party’s chairman, issuing instructions to his fellow Democrats to “take your key and leave the chamber discreetly,” via a 10:35 p.m. text message shared with The Washington Post.
The Democratic Party defended their walkout, saying they used Texas House rules to stop the passing of the Republican’s “restrictive, anti-voter legislation, that makes it harder for seniors, people who are disabled, and people of color to vote.
Turner said his party members were prepared to give speeches against S.B.7 to run out the session time until it became apparent to them the Republicans were going to try and cut debate short to “ram through their vote suppression legislation.”
“At that point, we had no choice but to take extraordinary measures to protect our constituents and their right to vote,” he said in a statement. “Republicans have only themselves to blame for the way this session is ending.”
The bill is the latest Republican effort following those in Florida and Georgia to put restrictions on state’s voting laws following November’s election that saw President Joe Biden win the presidency from former President Donald Trump.