In a last-ditch effort to prevent a restrictive voting bill from being passed in the state legislature, Texas Democrats walked out of the statehouse around midnight Sunday night before a final vote could be held. By walking out on the vote on Senate Bill 7 (S.B. 7), Democrats prevented a quorum, which is required before calling a vote.
If passed, S.B. 7 would severely suppress the vote in Texas. Provisions in the bill would limit voting hours, eliminate 24-hour polling stations and restrict access to mail-in voting. It also would allow partisan poll watchers unprecedented access and introduce new criminal penalties for election workers who limit their movement. Election officials who send mail-in voting applications to anyone who did not request one could also face felony charges.
Now, Governor Greg Abbott is threatening to withhold pay for the legislative branch by vetoing Article 10 of the budget. “Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” Abbott tweeted. “Stay tuned.”
Texas legislators make $600 per month plus a $221 per diem each day the legislature is in session.
State Rep. Donna Howard responded to Abbott’s threat, tweeting, “This would eliminate the branch of government that represents the people and basically create a monarchy.”
Abbott is also saying he will call a special session of the legislature to ensure the bill’s passage, but Democrats are not backing down. Appearing on CNN, State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said Democrats have options to respond even if Abbott calls a special session, although he declined to specify what those options might be. Martinez Fischer also called on Congress and President Biden to respond by passing nationwide voter protections.
“This is ripe for federal intervention,” he said. “And I hope our leaders are taking notice.”
On Saturday, Biden came out against the Texas voting bill, saying, “It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.”