The members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus who left the state Monday to withhold a quorum from a special session dedicated to passing an election security bill attacked Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Republicans on Tuesday for allegedly trying to suppress the votes of minorities.
“We have not seen this level of retrogression in the right of people to cast their votes since” the middle of last century, Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, said as he introduced the state lawmakers who chartered a plane to Washington, D.C., on Monday. “They made big sacrifices to be here today… so all Americans regardless of their race, their income their party affiliation will have equal access to the ballot.”
The press conference, outside of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., also included a singing of “We Shall Overcome.”
Following Veasey was a succession of Texas Democrats who promised to do everything in their power to kill GOP-backed legislation that would, among other things, force more active maintenance of voter rolls; ban drive-thru voting; codify poll-watchers’ access to a voting area; ban unsolicited mail-in ballots and more.
The Texas Democrats specifically connected the efforts to pass an election security bill to former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, alleging that Texas Republicans refuse to stand up to the former president.
“Rigging the system, attacking the very foundation of democracy and the rights of all Texans… is the price they’re willing to pay in order to pay for Trump’s prayer alter,” Rep. Toni Rose said.
“These Republicans in this legislature may have changed the messiah, Jesus, to Trump. But I haven’t,” added Rep. Senfronia Thompson.
The Texas Democrats are under fire for Republicans for their move to flee the state – Republicans say they are shirking their duties and have promised to outlast the Democrats and eventually pass their elections bill.
“What we’re seeing from these Texas Democrats is nothing short of a political stunt and cheap political theater,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said. “They’re protesting doing the jobs they were elected to do, and instead flying to Washington, D.C. on private jets. Texas is considering an important bill that would strengthen Texas’s voting rights and election integrity.”
“Instead of showing up to represent Texans and pass popular election integrity laws, Texas Democrats walked out of the special session, boarded private jets to DC, and abandoned their constituents,” Jessica Anderson, the president of Heritage Action, a group that’s supportive of the Texas law, told Fox News. “With this political stunt, Texas Democrats turned their backs on the majority of Texans who support common-sense election integrity efforts like voter ID requirements and protections against ballot harvesting.”
Gov. Greg Abbott said on “The Ingraham Angle” Monday that upon their return to Texas, the Democratic legislators will be arrested and brought to the Capitol so that the special session will have a quorum to do business. He added that he intends to continue calling 30-day special sessions until the state is able pass a law.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott attends a press conference where he signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 at the Capitol on June 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Abbott said that he will have Democratic lawmakers who fled the state arrested upon their return so that a special legislative session can have a quorum to pass an elections bill. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)
But the Texas Democrats hope they can beat Abbott to the punch by pressuring Congress to pass one of two major elections bills Democrats in Congress are pushing, preempting any Texas law. That will likely be a futile effort, however, because those bills have no Senate Republican support and Democrats don’t have the votes to remove the filibuster.
“We know that’s exactly what he’s gonna do. We went into this eyes wide open,” Rep. Chris Turner, the chairman of the Texas House Democratic Caucus said. “Our intent is to stay out and kill this bill this session and use the intervening time to implore the folks in this building behind us to pass federal voting rights legislation.”
Rep. Rafael Anchia, the chairman of the Texas Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, also tore into the process Abbott used to force action on the bill, accusing the governor of acting like an king and saying Democrats won’t participate in an anti-democratic process during remarks in Spanish.
Switching to English, Anchia continued to slam Texas Republicans for allegedly embracing Trump’s false election claims and defended his fellow Democrats from attacks on their seriousness after they were photographed with a pack of Miller Lites in the private plane they took to D.C. Monday.
“We are not going to buckle to the big lie in the state of Texas,” Anchia said. “We are not here smiling, we are not spiking the ball, we are not saying we are happy. In fact we are sad for democracy in the state of Texas.”
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.