On Tuesday evening, the Texas election integrity bill, Senate Bill 1, passed by an 18-4 vote despite a ride on chartered planes on Monday to D.C. by at least 51 of the 67 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives. The Democrats left to destroy quorum for the Texas House. Reportedly nine state Senate Democrats joined the House members on their trip to D.C. The Senate kept a quorum with 22 of its 31 members present and was able to vote on the bill.
Texas Senate passes bill that is stalled since House Dems left https://t.co/INIhnLKfaW
— EducatedWildChildGrownUp (@ListenHere12) July 14, 2021
The bill now heads to the Texas House of Representatives. The Democrats also jeopardized other bills on the docket for the Senate Republicans in the special legislative session that began last week. Bail reform, a ban on critical race theory in schools, and restrictions on transgender participation in athletics, and funding for teachers were all bills being considered. Several of them were stymied due to a missed midnight deadline to pass the bills because the Democrats left town.
The Democrats hoped to deny Republicans quorum needed to “pass new voting restrictions with 26 days left in a special legislative session called largely for that purpose,” according to the Texas Tribune report. On Tuesday, the Texas House Republicans approved an arrest warrant to bring House Democrats who fled the state back to the statehouse for the special session.
Conservative Pundit Mark Levin roasted the Democrats for their antics on Fox News on Tuesday.
“This is a bus of clowns, this is a plane of clowns, look at them smiling, smiling as they undermine the republic, excuse me, the Republic of Texas, as they undermine the state of Texas, and why are they doing that? Because now they’re going to be part of a clown show at the White House where they accuse Republicans of Jim Crow because they want to have integrity in elections.”
Democratic Texas State Rep Julie Johnson said she would do “whatever it takes” while posting a GIF from the Avengers on her Twitter account, using the hashtags #SuppressionSession and #DemsOut in another related post.
Whatever it takes. #SuppressionSession #tuesdayvibe #txlege #TXDems #votersuppression #votingrights #ForthePeopleAct #LetThePeopleVote #DemsOut #AbbottFailedTexas https://t.co/uCEiMR1pdY pic.twitter.com/fD3B4Hvtmx
— Julie Johnson (@juliejohnsonTX) July 13, 2021
The ultimate goal seems to be to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, according to a statement released on Monday by the House Democrats:
The irony was not lost on many Americans when photos of the maskless contingent on a private plane and then on a bus with a case of Miller Lite emerged on social media.
Rules for thee but not for me strikes the Democrats, again.
Hey, @TSA, if these Democrat lawmakers are allowed to fly without masks, so should the American people.
Follow the science, not the political science. https://t.co/xR1nCLbvTG
— Byron Donalds (@ByronDonalds) July 12, 2021
Tucker Carlson also weighed in with his usual acerbic take on the matter.
The youngest legislator, James Talarico, a self-professed progressive and former middle school teacher, spoke about the sacrifices he and his colleagues were making by fleeing the special session:
We’re prepared to stay out of Texas for the rest of the session.
This decision wasn’t easy. Many of my colleagues left kids, elderly parents, & sick loved ones. Many are risking their day jobs & their seats in the House.
But we won’t sit by & watch democracy wither on the vine.
— James Talarico (@jamestalarico) July 13, 2021
Some on Twitter seemed to agree with the stunt because of the bills being considered. Many of the points below seem to reference the modification of extraordinary measures taken during the pandemic to provide access to voting.
Election Integrity Bills
The bills being considered are Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3. The bills purportedly seek to tighten election integrity measures by further clamping down vote by mail rules and reining in “initiatives that Harris County—the state’s largest county that is home to Houston and a diverse population—attempted in 2020 to widen access to voting,” according to the Texas Tribune.
None of the contents of the bills appear to be unreasonable. Among the issues addressed by the two bills are the following:
- New voter id requirements, including the use of an expired id if the “license or identification is otherwise valid.”
- Measures to protect partisan poll watchers.
- Voter roll clean-up.
- The proximity of poll watchers “near enough to see and hear the election officers conducting the observed activity.”
- Rules about obstructing poll watchers.
- Rules on disabling the connectivity of tabulating equipment.
- Prohibitions on distributing “an application form for an early voting ballot to a person who did not request an application under Section 84.001.”
- Rules on missing or incomplete information for early voting ballots and procedures for corrections.
- Rules to separately tabulate and report early voting ballots, ballots cast at precincts, and ballots voted by mail.
- Rules about driving multiple people to polls.
- Rules on vote harvesting.
- Rules on campaign expenditures.
- Rules applicable to party access to election records.
- Prioritization by the courts, including the supreme court, “a proceeding for injunctive relief or a writ of mandamus under Chapter 273, Election Code, pending or filed in the court on or after the 120th day before a general or special election.”
- Bans on drive-thru and 24-hour voting.
Texas Dems Meet on Capitol Hill
The Dems met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday as well as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-New York, on Capitol Hill. At an event about voting rights in Detroit on Monday, Harris said the Democrats were “showing extraordinary courage and commitment.”
VP Kamala Harris shouts out Texas Democrats who walked out to prevent passage of a restrictive GOP voting bill:
“I applaud them standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote, unencumbered.” pic.twitter.com/qCNEXi3l3O
— The Recount (@therecount) July 12, 2021
Texas Governor Greg Abbott Says Arrests Will Happen
On Monday evening’s Ingraham Angle, Governor Greg Abbott stated that the missing legislators would be arrested upon return. “Once they step back into the state, they will be arrested and brought back to the Capitol, and we will be conducting business,” he said.
House Democrats will not be able to cast a vote at their chamber desks. They have been locked out, according to Nick Natario with ABC13:
LOCKED OUT: Here’s one consequence House democrats face for breaking quorum. They cannot cast a vote at their chamber desks. The keys were removed, locking them out. 57 House democrats won’t be here when the special session resumes. #txlegehttps://t.co/0iUwYPqDUZ pic.twitter.com/erPl3BblwR
— Nick Natario (@NickABC13) July 13, 2021
According to reporting by abc13.com, the flight of the Democrats has been in the works for a while:
“…at least 57 letters were delivered to the House general clerk directing the House to lock our voting machines and not unlock them until we provide expressed permission to do so upon our return to the Capitol,” said Chris Turner, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus…For weeks, Democrats have signaled they were ready to draw a line. Adding to their anger: A Houston man who gained attention last year after waiting more than six hours to cast a ballot was arrested on illegal voting charges a day before the special session began Thursday. Attorneys for Hervis Rogers say the 62-year-old did not know that his being on parole for a felony burglary conviction meant he wasn’t allowed to vote.”