Texas Democrats block one of the most restrictive voting bills in the country – for now
Austin, Texas – Texas Democrats orchestrated a walkout during debate on a GOP-backed restrictive voting bill, effectively killing its chances of passing during the current session. But Republicans warn the legislation has not been defeated for good.
Before Sunday night, the passage of Texas' Senate Bill 7, which proposed a host of measures to restrict voter access, was considered all but certain. After all, it had strong support from GOP state lawmakers, who hold the majority in both legislative chambers, as well as from the Republican governor.
As the midnight deadline drew nearer, it was clear Republicans had the necessary numbers, and if put to a vote, the bill would almost certainly pass.
But Texas Democrats threw a wrench in their plans by walking out of the Capitol on Sunday night, gradually departing the building as the fatal hour approached, the Texas Tribune reported.
"Leave the chamber discreetly. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building," read a text message sent by Grand Prairie's Chris Turner to other Democratic state representatives.
The Democrats then gathered at a Baptist church in East Austin. The location may have been intended as a sign of protest against a last-minute GOP proposal to limit Sunday early voting hours from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Critics argued that the rule primarily targeted Black voters encouraged to head to the polls after church services.
Without the required 150 lawmakers present, SB 7 was not able to proceed to a vote by midnight. The move effectively eliminated its possibility of passing during the current legislative session, which ends on May 31.
Texas Republicans strike back
But the battle is far from won. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick want to call a special legislative session in the hopes of passing SB 7, they both shared on Twitter.
Based on the governor and lieutenant governor's determination to see this through, it seems Texas Dems and voting rights activists have not defeated the bill outright – but they live to fight another day.
Cover photo: Screenshot/Twitter/Texas House Democrats