AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – A showdown in Texas over new voting restrictions that paralyzed the state Capitol for 38 consecutive days ended Thursday when some Democrats who fled to Washington, D.C. abandoned their opposition, paving the way for Republicans will resume the promotion of elections. revision.
Abruptly and disorderly, one of the few and longest quorum breaks in modern Texas history came to an end. Rather than a unified and celebratory comeback by Democrats, some members criticized their colleagues for what they criticized for breaking ranks. Many of the proposed changes to the Texas vote that Democrats have criticized for months remain in a bill that has already passed the state Senate, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott could now sign the legislation in a matter of weeks, if not. before.
Only three new Democrats showed up on Thursday, that is, the vast majority of the 50-plus Democrats. who fled to the nation’s capital in July continue away from the Texas Capitol. Still, Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan said there were enough to achieve a quorum, which in the House is typically 100 lawmakers present. Growing impatience among Republicans had led to escalating threats that missing lawmakers might face arrest, but agents never seemed to do more than leave warrants at the homes of Democrats.
“It has been a very long summer. I’ve been through a lot. Thank you all for being here, ”Phelan said. “Time to get back to the business of the people of Texas.”
The three Democrats who returned to the Texas House of Representatives defended their decision, saying they had successfully pushed Congress on voting rights legislation and pointing to the growing urgency of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Texas. One of them, Democrat Garnet Coleman of Houston, did not make it to Washington because he was recovering from a leg amputation caused by an infection.
“One of the things in life is that we have to know what our responsibilities are and we have to work to move something in the direction we want it to be,” Coleman said from a wheelchair as he delivered the prayer on the floor of the Chamber. .
But other Democrats who remained absent did not hide their frustration.
“We were literally on caucus calls for 2 hours this morning and none of the defected Democrats mentioned that they planned to help Republicans pass voter suppression bills. Guess what the other defending Democrats have accomplished by returning, NOTHING! “Democratic State Representative Ana-Maria Ramos tweeted.
Abbott now has an opportunity to divert attention to the Capitol away from criticism and challenge from Texas’s largest cities and school districts for their handling of worsening COVID-19 numbers.
Abbott this week tested positive for COVID-19, although his office had said the 63-year-old governor had no symptoms.
It leaves Democrats in the same position as when the resistance began: unable to permanently stop the GOP-controlled Legislature from putting new limits and rules on how more than 16 million registered voters can vote. AND federal voting rights protections The ones Texas Democrats lobbied for while in Washington still face a great chance of circumventing Republican opposition in Congress.
Months of protests had put Texas Democrats at the center of a new national battle for the vote. US Republicans were quick to enact new voting restrictions in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Republicans are now back on track to pass new election laws in Texas sooner current special session ends the 5th of September.
Acacia Coronado is a member of the staff of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on uncovered topics.