Fort Worth area lawmakers to meet with VP Kamala Harris after killing election bill

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Three Tarrant County Democrats are among a group of state lawmakers meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris next week following a walkout that killed a Texas election bill.

Senate Bill 7 was criticized by opponents who say it would have made it harder for Texans to vote. Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives received national attention in May when they utilized a walkout to break quorum and kill the legislation.

Some of those lawmakers and their Senate colleagues are scheduled to meet with Harris on Wednesday at the White House.

The Office of the Vice President announced the meeting Thursday afternoon. The names of the lawmakers weren’t included in the announcement, but the House Democratic Caucus tweeted out who’d be in attendance. Among the 10 legislators are Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, Rep. Nicole Collier of Fort Worth and Sen. Beverly Powell of Burleson.

“As state senators and representatives, we will continue to fight with every tool we have against discriminatory legislation that will make it harder for all Texans to vote, and that will create even more barriers to access for voters in marginalized communities,” Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, and Texas Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Carol Alvarado said in a joint statement. “It is imperative that the U.S. Congress does the same.”

The final version of Senate Bill 7, as signed off on by Republican members of a committee tasked with negotiating a compromise version of the bill, would have banned 24-hour and drive-thru voting, offered protections for partisan poll watchers and created election-related criminal offenses.

Supporters of the legislation said it was needed to promote election integrity, but opponents argued it would suppress voters, including Black and Hispanic voters and voters with disabilities.

The bill passed out of the Senate after an overnight debate but was blocked in the House when Democrats broke quorum. Gov. Greg Abbott has said he’ll call lawmakers back for a special session to address election legislation.

Other lawmakers joining the Tarrant County officials are Rep. Rafael Anchía of Dallas, Rep. Jessica González of Dallas, Rep. Gina Hinojosa of Austin, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio, Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston, Sen. Royce West of Dallas and Alvarado of Houston.

Texas Democrats have urged Congress to pass HR 1, the For the People Act, in recent days. The wide-ranging legislation meant to expand voter access has passed the U.S. House but is expected to have an uphill climb in the Senate.

“In our meeting with Vice President Harris, we intend to thank her and President Biden for speaking out against vote suppression legislation and for supporting efforts to protect voting rights across the country,” Turner and Alvarado said. “We also intend to underscore the importance of passing HR 1 and other critical reforms, and urge those in power to take action as soon as possible — for the sake of all Texans and all Americans.”