Texas Democrats are planning to leave the capital city of Austin in hopes of preventing a vote on an elections bill. Party officials tweeted the lawmakers were risking arrest by leaving the state to keep the Texas House from having a quorum. House Democrats say they'll visit with federal lawmakers in Washington, DC this week in hopes of getting the For the People and John Lewis Voting Rights acts passed.
They also accused the Texas GOP of trying to pass "dangerous legislation" making it hard for people to vote. Republicans, including Governor Greg Abbott, say the bills which include restrictions on mail-in ballots and bans on drive-through voting, are needed to prevent fraud. It's not the first time Texas Democrats have fled the state in protest of a bill. A group of lawmakers left Austin for Oklahoma and New Mexico in 2003 due to complaints about redistricting. The redistricting bill eventually passed.
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner, Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chair Rafael Anchía, Texas Legislative Black Caucus Chair Nicole Collier, Legislative Study Group Caucus Chair Garnet Coleman and Dean Senfronia Thompson released the following statement on the decision to break quorum:
“Today, Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.
“We are now taking the fight to our nation’s Capitol. We are living on borrowed time in Texas. We need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect Texans — and all Americans — from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy.”
Governor Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan are condemning the plan by state Democrats to flee the state. Phelan says House Democrats are putting state funding at risk by going to Washington, DC. He's promising to use House Rules to security a quorum.
Abbott says the Democrats are harming Texans who want to see property tax relief, retired teaching funding, foster care funding, and law enforcement support.
"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," said Abbott. "As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state."