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Politics Analysis: Texas Democrats are on a desperate mission to stop GOP voting bills

06:41  13 july  2021
06:41  13 july  2021 Source:   cnn.com

America’s Best Strategy for Protecting Voting Rights Is Dead

  America’s Best Strategy for Protecting Voting Rights Is Dead The conservative majority’s opinion has declared that voter fraud, not racial discrimination, is a threat to the American system of representation. Of course, the majority rejects that characterization. Without feeling or effect, the majority notes that Section 2 “provides vital protection against discriminatory voting rules and no one suggests that discrimination in voting has been extirpated or that the threat has been eliminated.” This is a standard line in the Court’s VRA cases.But that line is meaningless.

They're trying to save democracy by walking out on it.

Trey Martinez Fischer et al. standing in front of a building: Texas state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, speaks alongside members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus and voting rights advocates during a rally outside of the Texas State Capitol on the first day of the 87th Legislature's special session on July 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas. © Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images Texas state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, speaks alongside members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus and voting rights advocates during a rally outside of the Texas State Capitol on the first day of the 87th Legislature's special session on July 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

Texas state lawmakers, enacting an intricately plotted escape, left their posts and the Lone Star state itself and took flight to Washington on Monday on an extraordinary mission to halt Republican restrictive voting bills built on former President Donald Trump's fraud lies.

Some Texas Democrats ready to walk as GOP digs in on voting

  Some Texas Democrats ready to walk as GOP digs in on voting AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The possibility of Texas Democrats staging a second walkout to again stop one of America's most restrictive new voting measures grew louder Saturday, as hundreds of people waited hours to rail against the GOP's plan in the largest turnout this year at the state Capitol. AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The possibility of Texas Democrats staging a second walkout to again stop one of America's most restrictive new voting measures grew louder Saturday, as hundreds of people waited hours to rail against the GOP's plan in the largest turnout this year at the state Capitol.

After stepping off two chartered jets, they insisted they planned to stay until a highly unlikely scenario unfolds in which moderate Democratic senators kill filibuster rules used by the GOP to block voting rights reform.

"We are coming to DC to put pressure on them to act, because this isn't just Texas," Texas Democratic state Rep. John Bucy III told CNN's Erin Burnett on Monday.

"All over the South and in Republican states, we are seeing voter suppression bills. We need Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act," said Bucy, who unlike his colleagues set off the long drive from Texas to the US capital.

The spectacle is the latest stunning example of how the US political system is on the edge of meltdown as a result of turmoil triggered by Trump's false claims of a stolen election, which are now taken as fact by millions of Republican voters. The move also represents the growing desperation of Democrats who believe that their chances of winning future elections, including in 2022 and 2024, are being undermined by orchestrated assaults on the voting system by the GOP.

Fox News' Chris Wallace Confronts Texas Gov. Over Making Voting 'Harder' for People of Color

  Fox News' Chris Wallace Confronts Texas Gov. Over Making Voting 'Harder' for People of Color Wallace asked Governor Greg Abbott if "the point is to suppress voting" by minority groups.Hundreds of Texans opposed to the Republican-backed measure signed up to testify against the bill in a weekend hearing at the state Capitol, with many waiting more than 17 hours to make sure their voices were heard. During the Fox News Sunday interview, Wallace pressured Abbott over the controversial GOP bill, which has been largely pushed forward due to former President Donald Trump's false claims that he lost the 2020 election because of widespread voter fraud.

In effect, the fleeing Texas House Democrats are denying Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a quorum in a special session he called partly to pass a new measure that critics say severely curtails access to voting, especially for Democratic and Black voters. The dramatic gambit is the ultimate act of civil disobedience by the Texas lawmakers. It is intended to provide a stark contrast with federal Democrats -- like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin -- who are unwilling to break their own conventions to overturn the Senate filibuster.

The lawmakers hope that they can hold off the passage of the Texas law to give them time to somehow convince senators to pass new federal measures that would supersede their state's legislation, which is likely to eventually pass.

Chris Turner, chairman of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, told CNN's Anderson Cooper after landing at Dulles International Airport outside Washington that he had a clear message for the US Senate.

Texas House Democrats Invoke the ‘Nuclear Option,' Fleeing to D.C. to Stall Voting Restrictions

  Texas House Democrats Invoke the ‘Nuclear Option,' Fleeing to D.C. to Stall Voting Restrictions “We are holding the line here in Texas,” says Texas House Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who was among those flying to D.C. “If Republicans are silencing our voices here, they’ll do it anywhere in America and we’re going to stand up to that.” Texas’ Republican Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement Monday that Democrats’ actions “inflicts harm on the Texans who elected them to serve.” “As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state,” Abbott said.

"You have to act, and you have to act now. There's no more waiting," he said. "We need Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation to save our democracy because these Republican attacks will continue to occur, over and over again, in Texas and across the country."

But the action of the Texas Democrats raises its own uncomfortable questions about the health of American democracy -- as did walkouts by state Republican lawmakers in Oregon in recent years, for example, to block the passage of progressive legislation by Democratic majorities.

While the sincerity of Texas Republicans appears tainted by political opportunism, their majorities in the state legislature and Abbott's position in the governor's mansion were themselves the product of fair and democratic elections. In this case it is Democrats, rather than Republicans, disrupting regular order and challenging the principle that power follows certified elections in which the will of voters are expressed.

Biden to address voting rights

The walkout -- which could force the lawmakers to stay out their home state until the end of the special session, well into August -- also comes as President Joe Biden travels to the incubator of US democracy in Philadelphia Tuesday. He will give a major speech devoted to what the White House says is the "sacred, constitutional right to vote."

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  Biden to make much-anticipated voting rights speech Tuesday in Philadelphia "He will make the moral case to the American people on why the right to vote is fundamental to who we are as a nation," Psaki said. Previewing his remarks on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would directly call out lies from former President Donald Trump and other Republicans about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, and “decry efforts to strip the right to vote as authoritarian and anti-American.

Biden however so far is not in favor of abolishing the Senate filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation, despite warning parts of the US are falling back into the days of Jim Crow laws that established barriers Black Americans had to surmount before voting.

Given Abbott's capacity to call any number of special sessions and to take other steps to potentially compel attendance from lawmakers, their exodus may be hard to sustain in the long-term. Democrats are accusing Abbott of rushing through voting measures -- and a raft of other controversial legislation, including a ban on the teaching of critical race theory in schools -- to boost his own reelection race next year among Republican voters and potentially a presidential run in 2024.

Their protests -- along with the GOP's success in thwarting broad voting rights legislation in the Senate and a recent Supreme Court decision further neutering the Voting Rights Act -- might add up to Democratic futility.

Such an outcome could mean that the only chance that Democrats in Texas and elsewhere will have in countering Republican restrictive voting laws will be in using them to supercharge turnout in the midterms and the next presidential election. That will be a tall task since the Brennan Center for Justice, a law and policy institute, says there are now 28 new restrictive voting laws in 17 states.

Analysis: Texas obstruction vs. DC obstruction

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Lawmakers allege racial motive in new voting laws

The Texas lawmakers say they had no choice but to take desperate measures after walking out of a regular session of the legislature in June to prevent the passage of Senate Bill 7, which would have made mail-in voting more difficult, banned drive-thru voting introduced in the pandemic and prevented 24-hour voting allowed by Houston, one of the state's most populous Democratic strongholds that is key to that party's hopes of turning Texas blue.

"This bill will make it harder for the people of Texas to vote. The secretary of state's office in Texas told us that our elections ran smoothly, securely, and were a success," Bucy said as he drove from Texas to Washington.

"So, you have to question what is the problem these bills are trying to solve? Clearly, all they are trying to do is make it harder for the people of Texas to vote, specifically individuals with disabilities, women and people of color."

The previous Democratic boycott did appear to work in removing several of the most contentious measures from the legislation. It does not contain new restrictions on the Sunday voting that is popular with Democratic Party activists for maximizing turnout from Black churchgoers. But it does make it harder to cast ballots by limiting the collection of ballots by third parties, introduces new restrictions for voting by mail and takes further steps to water down the non-partisan nature of the counting and certification of ballots.

Abbott reacted to the departure of the Texas Democrats by accusing them of failing to show up to work on behalf of their constituents.

Fact-checking Biden's misleading voting rights speech

  Fact-checking Biden's misleading voting rights speech President Joe Biden waded deeper into the voting rights fight this week with a sweeping speech in Philadelphia that drew on dramatic, and at times misleading, comparisons and figures. © Provided by Washington Examiner Biden likened the election changes some GOP-controlled states are pursuing to a “21st century Jim Crow assault” on democracy, calling on Congress to pass a bill that would give the federal government control over election-related issues that go well beyond the ballot box.

"As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state," the governor said.

So far, Abbott has not mentioned potential sanctions, including the use of law enforcement officers or the possible use of fines against the lawmakers to compel attendance. Texas Republican House leader Dade Phelan vowed to use "every available resource under the Texas Constitution" to establish a quorum -- the minimum number of members legally required to hold a valid legislative session. And Texas US Sen. John Cornyn mocked the Democrats, saying their behavior insulted the self-image of hard-driving Texans. "It's not very Texan. "You stay and you fight -- you don't run away," he told CNN's Manu Raju.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, meanwhile, hit the angle that the "immature" behavior by the Democrats was in itself an affront to the political process. "It is a disgrace to democracy," Paxton said in a statement.

Harris praises Texas Democrats

A source familiar with the group's plans said they hoped to set up meetings with Democratic senators in Washington.

But they have already had a strong endorsement from Vice President Kamala Harris, who mentioned their "extraordinary courage and commitment," during a voting rights event in Michigan on Monday.

"They are leaders who are marching in the path that so many others before did when they fought -- and many died -- for our right to vote," said Harris who has been tasked by Biden with leading the administration's voting rights battle.

"I do believe that fighting for the right to vote is as American as apple pie."

Texas Republicans have argued that Democrats should not have advantages -- such as increased voting hours -- that are not available to conservative voters in sparsely populated rural areas. That principle effectively makes it harder to vote in high density cities long known for long lines on Election Day than in regions where polling places are less crowded.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in Texas or anywhere else in last November's election. Multiple efforts by Trump to prove there was have been thrown out of court -- often by judges appointed by GOP presidents.

Heirs to late civil rights icon John Lewis' vow to make 'good trouble' in fight over election laws .
A year after Rep. John Lewis' death a cadre of activists carry the late civil rights icon's legacy amid the most divisive voting rights debate in decades.Both made the pilgrimage to the southern city after four Black college students sparked a massive youth civil rights movement in 1960 by daring to sit at a Woolworth's lunch counter and politely ask for service.

usr: 2
This is interesting!