Texas Democrats fled the state on Monday to block Republican-backed election reform bills for a second time — setting up a standoff with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and heading to Washington, DC — risking arrest by leaving during a special session.
A majority of the Texas House’s 67 Democrats are planning on flying from Austin on two charter flights to the nation’s Capital, where they will press the Biden administration and congressional lawmakers to pass federal voting rights legislation, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The mass exodus of Democrats would deny the House a quorum when it gathers on Tuesday.
It would be the second time since May that the Democrats used the tactic to scuttle Republican attempts to overhaul the Lone Star State’s election laws.
They walked out on May 30 just hours before the chamber was expected to vote on the voting legislation, leaving it short of the required number of lawmakers needed to conduct a vote in the final hours of the regular legislative session.
Abbott then immediately called for a special legislative session.
Under House rules, the chamber can vote to lock the doors to prevent lawmakers from leaving and order law enforcement officials to track down and arrest any members who already fled, the Texas Tribune reported.
Even if Democrats manage to disrupt the special session, Abbott, a Republican, can just call for another when they return.
Republicans say the voting measures — ending 24-hour polling places, banning ballot drop boxes, and empowering partisan poll watchers — are designed to ensure the integrity of the vote by preventing voter fraud.
Democrats say the Republican plan is to make it harder for people to vote.
State Rep. Jasmine Crockett told the Dallas Morning News that she was planning on leaving the state and wouldn’t return until Aug. 7.
She will lobby for federal action in DC.
“Hopefully we can get to the point that we are even able to have a sit down with the president,” Crockett said. “We can really impress upon him and make our pleas that this is serious.”
With Post wires