(Headline USA) Texas Republicans advanced bills Sunday to secure the state’s elections after weak laws failed to stop fraudulent voting schemes and outside influence from marring the 2020 election results.
Republicans made clear they intended to advance a new election bill — which would prohibit 24-hour polling places, ban drop boxes and stop drive-thru voting — this weekend, with a first major vote on the proposals expected this week.
That timeline is pushing some Democratic lawmakers toward calling for a second walkout to again stop the bills from moving forward like they did in May when they broke quorum.
Texas is among several states with GOP-controlled statehouses where Republicans have slowly passed sensible voting safeguards in response to widespread election fraud and irregularities in the 2020 elections.
A second walkout by Texas Democrats — which some are describing as their best, if not only option — would mark a high-stakes escalation of their efforts to subvert Constitutional republican government in the state.
Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic former Texas congressman who is considering challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022, said he has already offered help, saying he was ready to raise money “literally to feed and house the legislators” if they reject their duties and their salaries.
“Should we stick around? Hell no. For what?” Democratic state Rep. Jarvis Johnson said.
“There’s nothing being done in earnest. There’s nothing be done with the utmost respect for one another.”
For weeks, Democratic leaders in the Texas House have said they are not ruling out another revolt, but have also expressed hope of weakening the bill during the 30-day special session.
Johnson, however, believes a large number of his colleagues are ready to deny Republicans a quorum for a second time, though most continue speaking cautiously.
“You may know my next move, but you can’t stop it. You never knew when Mike Tyson was going to throw the uppercut, but you knew he was going to throw it,” he said.
Another walkout may merely buy more time: Abbott could keep calling more 30-day special sessions until voting measures are passed.
Paychecks for nearly 2,000 Capitol staffers could also be on the line, because Abbott vetoed funding for the legislative branch following Democrats’ late-night walkout.
He has signaled he will restore that funding this summer — if lawmakers are around to put a bill on his desk.
The last time Texas Democrats left the state to deny a quorum was 2003, when they decamped to Oklahoma and New Mexico to try to block new GOP-drawn voting maps.
They were gone more a month, but ultimately, Republicans passed a new redistricting plan.
The versions of the revived voting changes passed Sunday by a House panel — at 7:30 a.m., almost 24 hours after debate began — and by a Senate committee later that afternoon no longer include two of the most contentious provisions: prohibiting Sunday morning voting, when left-wing activist groups get out black voters, and language that would have made it easier for a judge to overturn elections.
Hundreds of opponents packed overflow rooms at the Capitol and waited for hours to testify. It was the biggest turnout against a bill this year in Texas, where government restrictions and fear of a virus have dampened crowds.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.