Texas Dems Taking Surprise Field Trip To DC To Show 'Em How Democracy Works
Texas Democrats play rough.
In a move to deny Republicans a quorum for the special session, at least 58 Democratic members of the Texas House are scheduled to leave the state today in an effort to kill a voter suppression bill being jammed through the legislature. The bill in question would ban drive-through and 24-hour voting, and drastically restrict access to absentee ballots, all while kicking voter ID and poll watching requirements into overdrive.
In May, the same Democratic legislators succeeded in blocking a similar bill by simply walking out on the last day of the session, leaving less than the required two-thirds of the body's members present to call a vote. But now this monstrosity is back, with new provisions kicking trans kids out of sports for good measure. Let no one say Texas Republicans aren't a sorry bunch of bigoted assholes.
But this time, just a few days into the 30-day special session, Democrats risk being rounded up by the Texas Rangers and returned to the chamber if they deny Republicans a quorum. As the Texas Tribune notes, House rules state 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. The house shall determine on what conditions they shall be discharged."
So if they want to kill this bill, they'll have to stay out of Texas for weeks on end. And what better destination than Washington, DC, in July, right? Hope those Texas Dems enjoy clouds of mosquitoes and absolutely filthy humidity. (They're Texas Democrats. DC humidity will feel downright breezy.) The New York Times reports that they're boarding a couple of charter planes and heading for the nation's capital with the goal of focusing attention on the need for congressional Democrats to get their shit together and pass some voting rights legislation.
My Democratic colleagues and I are leaving the state to break quorum and kill the Texas voter suppression bill. W… https://t.co/9r3joFokqP— James Talarico (@James Talarico)1626118277.0
"This is a moment that is going to wake America up," State Representative Trey Martinez Fisher, who organized the extended walkout, told the Times. "We have to decide if we are going to stand for democracy. We want the nation to join us and we want the U.S. Senate to hear us and act."
(Yes, we are aware of the irony of Texas Dems using the minority veto as a means to draw attention to the need to end the filibuster. Two things can be true at once.)
For their part, Texas Republicans call the move a stunt. Houston Republican Briscoe Cain, who chairs the House Elections Committee, predicted that the bill would pass eventually.
"It's just delaying the inevitable," he told the Times, calling the Democrats flight to DC "political theater."
That's pretty rich coming from a guy who slapped on a cowboy hat and hopped a plane to Philly on November 6, promising to put a stop to the vote count in Pennsylvania.
But this time, unfortunately, that dipshit is probably right. Governor Greg Abbott can continue to call special sessions forever, and last month he vetoed a budget bill after the Democrats walked out, ensuring that the legislature itself will be defunded if state politicians don't return to regular business. That probably won't have much of an effect on the politicians themselves, since the state's legislature is very, very part time, but it will screw the 2,000-plus career staffers who rely on the paycheck. He's a mean sumbitch, ain't he?
Texas Republicans also play rough. But unlike Democrats, they do it to hurt their own constituents and employees.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.