Texas Democrats plan to leave state to thwart GOP's voting restrictions bill


Democrats are also protesting Republican attacks on transgender kids and other right-wing legislation.

Several Democratic state representatives in Texas are planning to leave the state on Monday to fly to Washington, D.C., in an effort to prevent the state's Republican-controlled Legislature from passing a spate of right-wing legislation, including bills that would make it harder to vote, access an abortion, or play sports as a transgender student.

By fleeing the state, Democrats would deny Republican lawmakers what's known as a quorum, or enough lawmakers to pass legislation in the special session the GOP majority is now holding.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called the special session in order to pass the right-wing legislation Republicans failed to pass in the regular session that ended in May, including a voter suppression bill that would decrease early voting hours, further limit who can vote by mail, and give more rights to poll watchers, among other provisions.

Abbott asked the Republican majorities in the state House and Senate to pass the culture war legislation as it's being pushed by right-wing media outlets like Fox News. The legislation includes banning transgender youth from playing on sports teams of their gender, blocking the teaching of "critical race theory" in public schools even though it's not currently taught there, and tackling "social media censorship," in addition to the voting rights restrictions.

But without enough Democratic lawmakers in attendance, none of this legislation can pass.

NBC News reported that Republicans may try to force Democrats back into the state to allow the special session to resume. Republicans could have the Democratic lawmakers arrested and brought back to the state capital in Austin, according to the outlet.

The special session is slated to end in 27 days, according to the Texas Tribune, meaning Democrats would have to remain out of state for nearly a month to keep the legislation from passing.

NBC News reported that Democrats are boarding chartered planes to Washington, D.C., where they will rally to push Congress to pass voting rights legislation.

Democratic lawmakers from Texas have already been to Washington, D.C., to try to convince Democrats to pass voting rights legislation to block a number of voter suppression laws Republicans have passed across the country in the wake of Donald Trump's loss.

The For the People Act, which Senate Republicans blocked using the filibuster, would prevent nearly every GOP-passed voter suppression law from being enforced.

This is not the first time Democrats in Texas have used this tactic to try to stop extremist GOP bills. They made a similar move earlier this year to prevent the same GOP voter suppression law from passing, walking out of the Legislature right as the regular session was ending and tanking Republican plans to make it harder to vote.

And in 2003, about 50 Democratic state lawmakers walked out to block the passage of a GOP redistricting proposal that Democrats called "an outrageous power grab." The redistricting proposal ultimately passed in a different special session.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.