Texas Gov. Greg Abbott threatened to veto a bill to fund the state legislature after state House Democrats walked out of the chamber to block a Republican voting restrictions bill, The Associated Press reports.
House Democrats staged a dramatic last-minute walkout to deny Republicans a quorum as they moved to pass a sweeping bill that would restrict ballot access. Republicans had no choice but to adjourn as the legislative session expired at midnight.
The walkout came after Republicans snuck language into the bill in a closed-door session making it easier for a judge to overturn an election. The bill would also cut polling hours, restrict absentee voting, ban voting expansions in Harris County, and empower poll watchers, among other measures.
“We’ve said for so many years that we want more people to participate in our democracy. And it just seems that’s not the case,” Democratic state Rep. Carl Sherman said.
“We may have won the war tonight but the battle is not over,” added Democratic state Rep. Nicole Collier. “We will continue to fight and speak out against those measures that attempt to silence our voices.”
Abbott threatens funding:
Abbott responded to the walkout by threatening to veto part of the budget passed by the legislature to fund their own salaries.
“No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” he tweeted.
Abbott said in a statement on Monday that he would call a special legislative session to pass the bill.
"I expect legislators to have worked out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol so that they can hit the ground running to pass legislation related to these emergency items and other priority legislation," he said.
“I don’t give a shit about my $600 a month” salary, tweeted state Rep. Gene Wu. “But there are thousands of workers here with families to support. This is petty and tone-deaf even for Texas.”
Texas Dems call on Congress to act:
After the walkout, Texas Democrats held a press conference at a historically Black church in Austin and called for President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats to pass voting rights legislation.
“We knew today, with the eyes of the nation watching action in Austin, that we needed to send a message,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said. “And that message is very, very clear: Mr. President, we need a national response to federal voting rights.”
Democrats have introduced two massive voting rights bills but neither is expected to gain enough support from Republicans to stave off a filibuster.
“We did our part,” said Rep. Erin Zwiener. “Now we need Congress to do their part.”
“State lawmakers are holding the line,” said state Rep. James Talarico. “Federal lawmakers need to get their shit together and pass the For the People Act.”