Democrats walk out again over Texas voting restrictions

Texas Democratic state Representative Chris Turner, seen here on July 10 speaking to a group of people waiting to testify against renewed efforts by Texas Republicans to pass voting restrictions as state lawmakers hold committee hearings on election integrity bills at the State Capitol on July 10, 2021 in Austin, Texas
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Texas Democratic lawmakers fled their state Monday seeking to derail a Republican-led voting restrictions bill that critics say is blatant voter suppression following Donald Trump's presidential election loss.

Several members of the Texas legislature decamped for Washington seeking to deny ruling Republicans the quorum they would need to pass the new measure.

The dramatic move escalates the fight over voting rights in Texas and nationwide, as Republicans in several states introduce legislation to tighten voting rights by, among other things, making mail-in voting more difficult and curtailing early voting hours.

Republicans say the bills are needed to prevent election fraud, as claimed by Trump in his repeated falsehoods that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

But critics say the measures aim to make it more cumbersome for ethnic-minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic.

"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," Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner and other state lawmakers said in a statement.

"We are living on borrowed time in Texas," they said, adding it was imperative the US Congress act quickly to pass legislation protecting Americans "from the Trump Republicans' nationwide war on democracy."

Without the Democrats in the chamber, the Texas House would be unable to convene to conduct business.

The latest action comes a day before President Joe Biden delivers a speech in Philadelphia on voting rights.

Vice President Kamala Harris expressed support Monday for the Texas delegation, praising their "extraordinary courage and commitment" to ballot box access.

"Fighting for the right to vote is as American as apple pie," Harris said.

The Texas Democrats' move is their second walkout in six weeks. On May 31 they torpedoed an earlier version of the bill, prompting the state's Republican governor to demand a special session to get the measure passed.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan blasted the Democrats' action as "an attempt to stall election legislation" and said "every available resource" would be used to secure a quorum.


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