Texas Democrats plan to leave state to stop GOP voting bill

Paul J. Weber
Associated Press

Austin, Texas – Democrats in the Texas Legislature on Monday began bolting for Washington, D.C., and said they were ready to remain there for weeks in a second revolt against a GOP overhaul of election laws, forcing a dramatic new showdown over voting rights in America.

Private planes carrying a large group of Democrats took off from an airport in Austin, skipping town just days before the Texas House of Representatives was expected to take up sweeping new voting restrictions in a special legislative session ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

It was not immediately clear how many of the 67 Democrats in the Texas House planned to go, but party leaders said it was enough to bring the Legislature to a halt.

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, holds a sign as he and other Democratic caucus members join a rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to support voting rights, Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Austin, Texas.

“This is a now-or-never for our democracy. We are holding the line in Texas,” said Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. “We’ve left our jobs, we’ve left our families, we’ve left our homes. Because there is nothing more important than voting rights in America.”

By leaving, Democrats again deny the GOP majority a quorum to pass bills, barely a month after their walkout thwarted the first push for sweeping new voting restrictions in Texas, including outlawing 24-hour polling places, banning ballot drop boxes and empowering partisan poll watchers.

The decision to hole up in Washington is aimed at ratcheting up pressure in the nation’s capital on President Joe Biden and Congress to act on voting at the federal level. Biden is due to deliver a major address on the issue Tuesday in Philadelphia, after facing growing criticism for taking what some on the left call too passive a role in the fight.