From The New York Times just now:
Democrats in the Texas Legislature staged a dramatic, late-night walkout on Sunday night, forcing the failure of a sweeping Republican overhaul of state election laws before a midnight deadline on Sunday. The move, which deprived the Legislature of the minimum number of lawmakers required for a vote, was a stunning setback for state Republicans who had made a new voting law one of their top priorities.
The effort is not entirely dead, however. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, indicated that he would call a special session of the Legislature, which could start as early as June 1, or Tuesday, to restart the process. The governor has said that he strongly supported an election bill, and he was widely expected to sign whatever measure Republicans passed.
“Election Integrity & Bail Reform were emergency items for this legislative session,” Mr. Abbott said on Twitter on Sunday night. “They will be added to the special session agenda.” He did not specify when the session would start.
While Republicans would still be favored to pass a bill in a special session, the unexpected turn of events on Sunday presents a new hurdle in their push to enact a far-reaching election law that would install some of the most rigid voting restrictions in the country and cement the state as one of the hardest in which to cast a ballot.
After a lengthy debate in the state House of Representatives in which Democrats raised numerous objections, staged lengthy question-and-answer sessions and leveraged procedural maneuvers, Democrats left the chamber en masse, leaving the House roughly 14 members short of the required 100-member quorum to continue business. Without the requisite number of legislators, Dade Phelan, the speaker of the state House, adjourned the session around 11 p.m. local time, effectively killing the bill for this legislative session.
Republicans’ inability to pass the measure on Sunday night was the first major stumble for the party in its monthslong drive to restrict voting across the nation, and an embarrassment for G.O.P. leaders in the Texas Legislature who at least momentarily fell short of a top legislative goal for both the governor and the Republican Party.
Here’s more info from The Washington Post:
The exodus from the floor came after Chris Turner, the House Democratic chairman, sent a text to colleagues instructing them to exit the House at 10:35 p.m. Central time, according to an image shared with The Washington Post.
“Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly,” Turner wrote, referring to the key that locks the voting mechanism on their desks. “Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building.”
“We decided to come together and say we weren’t going to take it,” state Rep. Jessica González (D) said in an interview after the walkout, adding that she objected not only to the measure’s content but the way it was crafted with no input from her side of the aisle. “We needed to be part of the process. Cutting us out completely — I mean this law will affect every single voter in Texas.”
The Republican-majority House took up the legislation after the Senate passed it early Sunday following a marathon overnight debate that stretched more than seven hours. The measure mirrors other GOP-backed legislation approved in Georgia, Florida and other states.
As the night wore on, it became clear that House Democrats intended to do everything they could to block Senate Bill 7, pushing the legislation perilously close to the body’s midnight deadline to act. More than two dozen Democrats were absent for a procedural vote, prompting a flurry of speculation that they might try to block a vote by denying the House the necessary quorum.
Calling the measure “egregious” and “horrific,” Democratic lawmakers likened it to the Jim Crow laws of the 20th century that effectively barred Black Americans from voting in Southern states. They sought to slow the process by arguing that the bill had not been properly debated in either chamber.
Texas Democrats are demanding an investigation into the death toll of the catastrophic February storm and power outages after a BuzzFeed News analysis found that hundreds more people likely died from the freezing temperatures than the state has acknowledged.
“An official investigation into the true death toll of the power grid collapse is our best shot at guaranteeing accountability for those in power who allowed this to happen,” former member of Congress and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke told BuzzFeed News in an email.
“The loss of life that is depicted in this story is heartbreaking and the fact that the death toll numbers have been miscalculated is absolutely unacceptable,” said Rep. Marc Veasey, a member of the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, by email. “We can’t let this stand. We need answers and accountability.”
The state’s official tally of deaths from the storm currently stands at 151. But BuzzFeed News ran an “excess deaths” analysis of how many more people died during and right after the storm than would have been expected, given long-term demographic and seasonal trends. Our best estimate is that around 700 people were killed in the week of the storm and the worst power outages.
We have a lot of battles coming up but it’s good that Texas Democrats are fighting back and we need to keep up the momentum to flip Texas Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with Powered by People’s voting registration efforts and the Texas Democratic Party’s GOTV efforts:
We also need U.S. Senate Democrats to reform or abolish the filibuster so we can pass voting protection bills like For The People Act and The John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Click here to contact your Democratic Senator and tell them you support abolishing or reforming the filibuster to pass For The People Act and The John Lewis Voting Rights Act.