Politics Texas GOP to revive voting bill, Democrats plot next move
Texas GOP's new voting restrictions on verge of approval
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republicans in the Texas Senate muscled one of the most restrictive new voting laws in the U.S. to the cusp of the governor's desk early Sunday, approving fewer ways to cast a ballot and more criminal penalties after rushing the bill to the floor in the middle of the night. The sweeping measure, known as Senate Bill 7, passed along party lines around 6 a.m. after eight hours of questioning by Democrats, who have virtually no path to stop it from becoming law. But the bill must still clear a final vote in the Texas House later Sunday in order to reach Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republicans pressed ahead with their push for tougher election laws Tuesday, vowing to ensure Democrats' weekend victory over one the most restrictive voting measures in the country would only be temporary.
GOP Gov. Greg Abbott prepared to call lawmakers back for a special session to revive the voting measure that died when Democratsfrom the state Capitol just before end of the legislative session Sunday night. Bolstered by GOP majorities in both the House and Senate, Abbott also was weighing whether to use the extra session to take up other top conservative priorities that had failed during the session.
Democrats Need a New Plan to Defend Voting Rights
The outlook is dim for voting rights legislation. DOJ enforcement and voter mobilization may be Democrats’ best shot for defending democracy.It was inevitable that when Democrats regained control of the White House and Congress there would be renewed interest in federal voting rights legislation, for two reasons: First, it has been a long-standing injustice that there is no clearly and federally established right to vote, other than defensive protections of minority groups previously subject to patterns of discrimination. And second, in 2013 the U.S.
That left Texas Democrats facing the aftermath of their last-minute maneuver and confronting how — or even whether — they can turn it into more than just temporary roadblock in the GOP’sacross the U.S.
“There are consequences,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, one of Texas’ longest-serving Democrats.
Democrats who pulled off the revolt in the state House of Representatives just before a midnight deadline Sunday did not leave indefinitely. Most were back on the House floor just 12 hours later for ceremonial business, and none are calling to boycott a special session.
Texas becomes latest battle in GOP's push for stricter voting laws. Here are the others.
An effort in Texas to make it more difficult to vote is the latest attempt by Republicans to complicate ballot access as former President Donald Trump continues to push baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The legislation proposed by Texas GOP lawmakers would be among the most restrictive in the country. It would put new limits on the hours voting could take place, curtail the use of drop boxes and drive-through voting stations and restrict the ability of election officials to send applications to vote by mail to people who didn’t request one.
They are instead betting their dramatic flight out of the Texas Capitol and to a Black church will make Republicans think twice— like banning early voting Sunday morning, when many Black worshippers go to the polls after service — and give them more say on the next elections bill.
But bare-knuckled Republican governing is a way of life in the Texas Capitol and no concessions are so far promised. Abbott, meanwhile, has has begun both punishing and taunting Democrats while he settles on deciding on when he will order them back to work.
Voting rights legislation sits in Congress while states move ahead with reforms
Democrats repeated calls for Congress to pass sweeping voting rights legislation after efforts to pass election reform in Texas led to a walkout over the holiday weekend. The calls for federal legislation come as restrictive voting bills work their way through Republican-led state legislatures.
He said Monday he would veto the part of the budget that funds legislators' salaries, a move that could impact not just Democrats but also other Capitol staff. He then tweeted a reminder of the last time Texas Democrats dramatically blocked a bill: when then-state Sen. Wendy Davis talked for more than 11 consecutive hours in 2013 to filibuster a sweeping anti-abortion measure, which Republicans immediately revived and passed in a special session.
“We all know how that story ended," Abbott tweeted.
Texas Republicans may also enter a 30-day special session with not just commanding majorities, but new leverage. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the staunchly conservative leader of the Senate, also wants Abbott to demand that lawmakers try again to pass a ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports.
Video: Texas lt gov defends gov’s threat to defund state legislature as Dems stage walkout to block voting bill (FOX News)
The Texas GOP's torpedoed bill, known as Senate Bill 7, would have reduced polling hours, empowered poll watchers and scaled back ways to vote. It included a ban on drive-thru voting centers and 24-hour polling places, both of which were used last year around Houston, reflecting how Republicans went after Texas’ largest Democratic stronghold.
Fact check: Here are 20 things Texas Republicans' elections bill would do
Democratic state legislators in Texas staged a dramatic walk-out Sunday night to prevent the immediate passage of a Republican elections bill that would make it harder for some residents to vote. But the bill is not dead: it could get put on the agenda at a special legislative session at some point this year. © Lynda M. Gonzalez/Pool//Getty Images Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18, 2020. Republican Gov.
But it was new provisions added during final negotiations between the House and the Senate that triggered the Democrats dramatic action. One of the new measures would have made it easier to overturn an election by allowing a judge to void a candidate’s victory if the number of fraudulent votes cast could change the outcome, regardless of whether it was proved that the fraud actually had affected the result. It was kind of provision could allow a favorable judge to side with a candidate who makes broad claims of fraud with little specific evidence — as former President Donald Trump did with virtually no success.
Some Democrats suggested they would allow a vote on the elections legislation, if it more closely resembled the earlier version and included some bipartisan input. Democrats had voted against that as well, but had not staged the protest.
“If we get back on track with that mentality, we might be able to come up with election policy that is less objectionable," Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said.
Texas Dems stalled the GOP's voting law. Here's what was in it
Democrats walked out of the state Capitol, denying Republican a quorum as the clock ticked down on the legislative session. The governor said a special session will be called.Governor Greg Abbott immediately put lawmakers on notice that he'll call a special session to get an election bill passed and told a local radio station on Thursday the session could take place before the fall.
There were some signs Republicans might back off some of the new, strict measures. Republican state Rep. Travis Clardy, one of the negotiators on the final version of the Texas bill, told NPR on Tuesday that banning early Sunday morning voting was essentially a typo -- that instead of starting voting no earlier than 1 p.m., the bill was supposed to say 11 a.m.
“That’s one of the things I look forward to with fixing the most. Call it a scrivener’s error, whatever you want to,” Clardy told NPR.
But the Senate author of the bill, Republican Bryan Hughes, made no mention of such a mistake over the weekend while defending the new Sunday limits. “Election workers want to go to church, too,” Hughes said.
It the new bill is not acceptable to Democrats — and they were to walk out again — Republicans' don't have to stand pat. State troopers could be mobilized to try to forcibly bring lawmakers back to the House, as was the case in 2003, when Texas Democrats fled to Oklahoma and New Mexico to try and block new voting maps.
Whitmire, who was first elected to the Texas Legislature in 1973, spent 36 days holed up in a hotel before breaking ranks with his fellow Democrats and returning home. The decision gave Senate Republicans at the time the quorum needed to get back to work on a redistricting plan that would give the GOP more seats in Congress.
Republicans want to change state election laws. Here’s how they’re doing it.
Comparing the proposed law in Texas to the one that passed in Georgia reveals five key areas targeted since former President Trump's defeat.The latest flashpoint in the GOP drive to change voting rules came in Texas, where Democrats temporarily blocked a sweeping new bill this week that touched many of the same voting policies that drew wide notice in Georgia earlier this year. Republicans across the country have proposed significant changes to their states' election rules after former President Donald Trump promoted conspiracy theories and spread false claims that he’d been robbed of victory there and elsewhere by massive fraud.
“Of upmost important is, what are you going to do when you get back?" Whitmire said of denying a quorum. “Are things going to be different? Probably not. But it educates the public and lets your core group know how committed you are to principles."
Texas Democrats' move has reverberated across the country. President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Democrats and their allies to step up the fight over voting law, which is expected to heat up on Washington later this month when.
“I urge voting rights groups in this country to begin to redouble their efforts now to register and educate voters. June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill,” he said.
Associated Press writer Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.
Pastor seeks revival of suit challenging virus restrictions .
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — About 100 supporters of a Louisiana minister gathered outside a federal appeals court in New Orleans on Monday to show support as his lawyers asked to revive a lawsuit he filed last year challenging the state's coronavirus restrictions. Tony Spell repeatedly flouted the public health restrictions at his Life Tabernacle Church in the Baton Rouge suburb of Central, and faces six state criminal counts as a result. His supporters assembled at a public park across from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where they prayed, listened to speeches and waved flags reading “An Appeal to Heaven.