Politics Texas Dems Are Fighting for Democracy—Why Won’t Washington’s?

12:28  13 july  2021
12:28  13 july  2021 Source:   thedailybeast.com

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“My Democratic colleagues and I are leaving the state to break quorum and kill the Texas voter suppression bill,” James Talarico, who represents District 52 in the state House, tweeted on Monday afternoon. President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak on the topic in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris is fundraising off the Texas stunt, urging Americans to donate to the Democrats in “the fight to protect and expand the right to vote.” Ironically, on Sunday she argued that “our democracy is stronger when everyone participates” – but apparently referring to elections

In a similar move back in May, Texas Democrats triggered the end of a state legislative session and blocked voting for a GOP-backed voting reform bill when they walked out of the chamber. Governor Greg Abbott (R) responded to the move by vetoing a section of the state budget bill, effectively slashing the budgets of thousands, including lawmakers.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including Democrats’ political courage. On Monday morning, Texas Democrats stopped playing by the GOP’s rules in a state Republicans control and threw a wrench into Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to ram through a slew of voter suppression laws. How did Democrats manage to actually stall the Republican war on voting? They stopped compromising and started fighting.

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Fifty-eight Democratic members of the state’s House packed their bags and fled the state on Monday afternoon, just enough to paralyze legislative business in Austin. House rules required two-thirds of the chamber’s 150 members to be president for business to be conducted, which means none of the nightmares in the Texas GOP’s bag of tricks can find their way to Abbott’s eager pen. The Democrats will likely need to remain on the lam for weeks in order to wait out the legislative clock.

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Texas Democrats are fleeing to Washington to try to kill a Republican bill making it harder to vote in the Lone Star State. Democracy Dies in Darkness. Democrats in the Texas Legislature were planning Monday, July 12, to leave the state in another revolt against a GOP overhaul of election laws.

Democratic state legislators are trying to prevent Republicans from passing a bill that tightens ballot access during a special session that began last week. One source familiar with the plans said that some of the lawmakers will be flying to Washington to meet with members of Congress and urge them to pass federal voting-rights legislation. "We are living on borrowed time in Texas ," the caucus leaders' statement said, adding that they hoped Congress would pass two bills proposed by Democrats to "to protect Texans — and all Americans — from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy .”

But House rules also say that if there’s not a quorum, a majority vote to “secure and maintain” one would mean that “All absentees for whom no sufficient excuse is made may, by order of a majority of those present, be sent for and arrested, wherever they may be found, by the sergeant-at-arms or an officer appointed by the sergeant-at-arms for that purpose, and their attendance shall be secured and retained.”

So these free-range Texas House Dems may be fugitives soon, but their bold act in defense of voting rights has activists asking when U.S. Senate Democrats, who control that chamber, will pack up the bipartisanship and start acting with the same boldness. The national party can and should learn a valuable lesson from their colleagues in Texas.

Texas Dems flee state to prevent Republicans from passing voting laws

  Texas Dems flee state to prevent Republicans from passing voting laws Texas Democrats fled their state on private jets Monday in order to prevent a series of new, restrictive voting laws from making their way through the state legislature. '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,' the Texas state house Democratic caucus said in a statement. At least 58 Democratic lawmakers left Austin to fly to Washington D.C.

A group of Texas Democratic lawmakers plan to flee their state in a desperate bid to stop the Republican-run legislature from passing laws they say will suppress the vote of people of color. But even if Democrats were able to remain out of the state for that long, the governor could continue to call special sessions until lawmakers return. If Republicans will eventually succeed in passing the bill, why are Democrats doing this? Even though Democrats cannot stop the Republican legislation, bringing the legislature to a halt might give them some kind of leverage in negotiating over the bills.

Texas Republicans will not be denied. In all but declaring war on democracy , they and their colleagues in other states are mounting a rearguard action against an evolving electorate, freezing GOP power in place so voters in two or four or 10 years won ’ t be able to translate their own preferences into action. These Republicans want local election officials to be vilified, harassed, intimidated and even targeted for prosecution, a process that could end with elections being simply thrown out if Republicans don’t win. If you thought the 2020 election was a mess, just wait until you see what they have in store.

It’s fitting that many of the Texas Democrats flew to Washington, D.C., where they plan to pass their time away rallying their federal colleagues around the importance of passing comprehensive voting rights legislation. Senate Democrats desperately need an injection of fighting spirit after all but abandoning the For the People Act, once their signature piece of voting rights legislation as Republicans are furiously pushing state laws intended to roll back voting.

“Texas Democrats are putting on a master class for Washington on what it looks like to defend our democracy,” Texan and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro told The Daily Beast on Monday. “Congressional Democrats would be wise to follow their lead by using every tool in the toolbox to protect voting rights, including addressing the filibuster.”

Castro isn’t alone in hoping a stalled-out Democratic Washington might borrow some urgency from the Lone Star State. “Ending the filibuster would be a great way to celebrate Texas Dems for courageously protesting voter suppression,” a frustrated Robert Reich tweeted. “Preserving our democracy is what we elected you to do.”

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.

Democrats in the Texas legislature have left their state en masse in an effort to prevent Republicans there from passing a law to tighten voting rules. The move will temporarily paralyse the state' s House of Representatives, which requires at least two-thirds of lawmakers be present for a vote. There has been concern among liberals that the Biden administration is not taking the threat state-level voting laws pose to Democratic candidates in upcoming elections - and has not shown a willingness to take aggressive action in Congress to push through new national rules.

A man hailed by mainstream media outlets for standing in line for six hours to cast his ballot in last year’ s Democratic primary has been arrested for voting illegally. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted. Social media users attacked the Texas AG for charging Hervis. For instance, poll analyst David Rothschild called Paxton a “shockingly bad person” who was “doing bad things to good people to score cheap political points in your voter-suppression crusade to create permanent white rule in Texas .”

They’ve failed to do that in Washington, and party morale has never been lower. Earlier this month, Senate Republicans successfully filibustered Democratic efforts to bring the For the People Act to the floor. When asked about the future of voting rights on The Mehdi Hasan Show over the weekend, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki could only find the energy to say she’s “not gonna accept that it died,” all but confirming For the People is, in fact, dead.

The lack of urgency on display in the Senate is infuriating to activists and voters who have watched Democrats squander the better part of a year offering compromises to a GOP that has repeatedly made clear its categorical unwillingness to work with Democrats on anything.

In Texas, Democrats trapped in the minority are thinking outside the box to prevent Republicans from gutting voting rights. In Washington, Mitch McConnell’s Republicans are in the minority but still seem to have near-total control of the legislative agenda. What gives?

One factor at play is how close state lawmakers are to the real effects of voter suppression. Whether in Texas, Georgia, Arizona, or any of the states where Republicans introduced over 380 voter suppression bills this year, state lawmakers are hearing from angered and terrified voters desperate to protect their right to representative government. Working in Congress can have an insulating effect on lawmakers, blinding them to the threats unfolding in their communities.

Byron York's Daily Memo: Democrats against democracy

  Byron York's Daily Memo: Democrats against democracy Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.DEMOCRATS AGAINST DEMOCRACY. They've done it again. Desperate to stop a new voting-procedures bill in Texas, Democratic lawmakers have fled the state. Since a quorum is required for a vote to be held, their absence makes it impossible for the legislature, controlled by a Republican majority, to pass the election bill, or any other bill, for that matter, until they return.

There is no better example of dangerous blindness than Arizona’s Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Earlier this month, Business Insider uncovered a 2010 video in which Sinema, then an Arizona state representative, savaged the very idea of the filibuster as a “false pressure to get to 60” votes, and advocated using reconciliation to work around Republican opposition. Ten years later, Sinema’s position at the extreme end of filibuster protectionism is utterly unrecognizable from the progressive she once was.

Another issue is Senate Democrats’ fixation on institutionalism at the expense of functioning government. Here’s a Washington insider secret: When a Democratic lawmaker says they believe in “protecting the institution” of the Senate—as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin often does—what they’re really saying is, “I’m afraid Republicans will say I’m not being bipartisan.” And believe me, nothing frightens Democrats more than the threat of being labeled uncooperative.

That fear is how Minority Leader McConnell and his Senate Republicans have held on to what is essentially a veto on any business Senate Democrats want to bring forward. Mitch and his crew were never worried about ideas like “institutionalism” or “norms” when they pulled historic stunts like jamming through the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the dying days of the Trump administration.

Budowsky: Texas Mr. and Ms. Smiths come to Washington for democracy

  Budowsky: Texas Mr. and Ms. Smiths come to Washington for democracy The timeless truths told by Texas Democrats who come to Washington include the greatest truth of all: If every Senate Democrat backs voting rights they — and we — and democracy — will win.This battle is being waged in state capitals across America and the Capitol building in Washington, which was recently invaded by a criminal mob committing defamations against democracy that small minds try desperately to support or forget.

The lawmakers who fled Austin in protest captured the imagination of rank-and-file Democrats because they seem to understand better than Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that the modern GOP is not an entity that can be compromised with. The modern Trumpist GOP is a party that only understands the language of domination and coercion, as Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks reminded us at this week’s CPAC carnival of crazy. Trump’s GOP is not a compromise machine; it’s a sledgehammer.

What the Texas Democrats did was certainly not “institutionalist” by any definition. Their disrespect for “the process” likely makes Manchin and other rules-fetishists gag. But fighting an irregular adversary can often be messy business. Texas Democrats chose a wild but powerful play to try and prevent a GOP-driven calamity for voting rights across their state. It’s a strategy that could work, provided the Texas Democrats stick to their guns and ignore the name-calling sure to flow from the right-wing media swamp.

Senate Democrats should take the fight to protect voting rights as seriously as their Lone Star counterparts, even if that means abandoning their obsession with bipartisanship and advancing some form of voting-rights protections alone. Fleeing their own legislative session may be a desperate measure, but it will take no less to thwart a Republican Party determined to take apart our democracy to maintain its own hold on power.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Three Texas Democrats who fled state contract COVID-19 .
Three fully vaccinated members of the group of Texas Democrats who fled the state have contracted the coronavirus, the Texas House Democratic Caucus announced Saturday. © Provided by Washington Examiner One member tested positive Friday night, followed by two more Saturday morning, the Democrats announced in a statement. The three members were among the group that smiled without masks as they traveled to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to block a Texas voting bill that they argue would suppress votes.

usr: 2
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