WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Texas Democrats say they are packed for a long stay in the nation’s capital, holding out to potentially ruin Republicans’ plans to pass a controversial voting rights law in their home state.
“I packed for 30 days,” state Rep. Alex Dominguez told The Donlon Report.
Dominguez is among the group Gov. Greg Abbott criticized for fleeing to Washington, D.C. after he called a special session to vote on a bill that would reduce available polling hours and conveniences in Texas. With a quorum of 100 state representatives, the bill is certain to pass on the strength of the 76 Republicans in the chamber.
Democrats denied the state the quorum by getting on a private jet Monday night. Abbott has called for state police to bring the lawmakers back to the capitol, but as long as they’re outside of Texas they would need to be extradited back.
On Monday afternoon, Abbott said: “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. As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state.”
Dominguez said Abbott was trying to “bully” them.
“I think that the question is, where are we supposed to be? We’re supposed to be exactly where we’re supposed to be right now,” Dominguez said on The Donlon Report. “And that’s helping our constituents, helping Texan voters, making sure that their rights to vote are no longer infringed.”
The Texas legislation would outlaw 24-hour polling places, ban drop boxes for mail ballots and empower partisan poll watchers. Republicans say the measures are needed to fight fraud. Democrats counter that fraud is very rare and the bills target their supporters.
The measures are part of the GOP’s rush to enact new voting restrictions in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. More than a dozen states this year have already passed tougher election laws — but only in Texas have Democrats put up this kind of fight.
President Joe Biden decried the Republican-led movement to tighten voting laws in a speech in Philadelphia Monday. He said it was the biggest threat to democracy since the civil war.
“The 21st century Jim Crow assault is real, it’s unrelenting. We are going to challenge it vigorously,” Biden said.
He also called out legislators pushing for restricting voting access by asking, “Have you no shame?”
Still, a path to federal change does not appear obvious. The 50-50 partisan split in the Senate would require 10 Republicans to join Democrats in enacting nationwide rules that would limit their state’s ability to pass its own voting laws.
Earlier in 2021, Democrats used a process called reconciliation to pass a new round of COVID-19 stimulus with just 51 votes. However, that is only available for bills that involve the federal budget. A voting rights bill likely would not meet that mark.
Democrats could change Senate rules to allow simple majorities to advance legislation and remove the filibuster. But moderate Democrats have been leery of that idea, fearing what Republicans could do the next time they get control of both chambers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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