According to the Texas Democratic lawmakers whose risky “flight and fight” strategy from Austin to Washington, D.C. has at least temporarily derailed a controversial GOP elections bill, their mission isn’t just about protecting voting rights in Texas. It’s about fighting the wave of Republican-crafted bills across the country that seek to drastically limit the ability to vote for millions of people.
More than 50 Democrats walked out of the state capitol and many boarded chartered planes to head to D.C. to begin to pressure Congress to pass federal voting reform acts that will protect the right to vote for millions of people. By exiting the state House, they prevented Republicans from passing any legislation because two-thirds of the legislature is needed to give Texas Governor Greg Abbott a quorum. NBC News reports the lawmakers are risking possible arrest if and when they do return to Texas. Right now, they say they have no intention of returning until Congress acts.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer seems to be paying attention.
Schumer says he will meet with Texas Democrats that fled the state Capitol today
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) July 13, 2021
For his part, Governor Abbott insists he will continue to call special session after special session to get the election bill and other GOP-favored legislation passed. And later this summer, another partisan battle looms as Texas’ redistricting process comes up.
The truth is that redistricting is likely to have an infinitely bigger impact on TX’s political future than proposed restrictions on voting procedures (which may be born of ill intent but I see as having negligible partisan impact).
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) July 13, 2021
According to one analysis by CNN, the extremely unorthodox move by the Lone Star State lawmakers is yet another sign that the American political system is broken.
— CNN (@CNN) July 13, 2021
More from CNN:
The spectacle is the latest stunning example of how the US political system is on the edge of meltdown as a result of turmoil triggered by Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, which are now taken as fact by millions of Republican voters. The move also represents the growing desperation of Democrats who believe that their chances of winning future elections, including in 2022 and 2024, are being undermined by orchestrated assaults on the voting system by the GOP.In effect, the fleeing Texas House Democrats are denying Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a quorum in a special session he called partly to pass a new measure that critics say severely curtails access to voting, especially for Democratic and Black voters. The dramatic gambit is the ultimate act of civil disobedience by the Texas lawmakers. It is intended to provide a stark contrast with federal Democrats — like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — who are unwilling to break their own conventions to overturn the Senate filibuster.The lawmakers hope that they can hold off the passage of the Texas law to give them time to somehow convince senators to pass new federal measures that would supersede their state’s legislation, which is likely to eventually pass.
The analysis by Stephen Collinson also notes that the extreme actions of Texas Democrats to disrupt legislative proceedings is another strong sign that U.S. politics are badly fractured. He writes:
While the sincerity of Texas Republicans appears tainted by political opportunism, their majorities in the state legislature and Abbott’s position in the governor’s mansion were themselves the product of fair and democratic elections. In this case it is Democrats, rather than Republicans, disrupting regular order and challenging the principle that power follows certified elections in which the will of voters are expressed.
“You must pass strong federal voter protection legislation, and you must do it now. You must do it before the August recess.”