Hours after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a third attempt at passing a GOP voting bill by calling another special legislative session to begin this weekend, Texas Democrats who left the state weeks ago say they’ll keep fighting to protect voting rights.
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“These bills are just the latest in a systematic attack by Trump Republicans, in Texas and across the country, to undermine our democracy and silence the voices of the people,” said Democratic State Rep. Chris Turner, the chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.
“We will never stop fighting,” he said.
Abbott’s announcement was expected and Turner, who scrambled to fly out of Texas with dozens of Democratic lawmakers last month, wouldn’t say what he and his Democratic colleagues will do next, other than to say it’ll be a “collective” decision.
They were joined on Capitol Hill Friday by Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, a key figure on voting rights legislation in the Senate.
“They say everything is bigger in Texas, but what is bigger than defending our national right to vote and our freedom to vote?” Merkley asked. “They say don’t mess with Texas. Well, I say don’t mess with these Texas legislators who are defending the right to vote in their home state.”
In choosing to hunker down in Washington, Texas Democrats sought to put pressure on President Joe Biden and Congress to pass new federal voting rights legislation that would blunt the impact of the GOP bill back home.
A group of key Democratic senators has been working for weeks with their counterparts in the U.S. House to develop a narrow approach. But they still face the same challenge as before: a filibuster by Senate Republicans, who overwhelmingly oppose the measure.
Overcoming that hurdle would require changes to Senate procedural rules, which many moderate Democrats oppose – denying the party the votes to change the rule.