According to CBS News, a group of more than 50 Texas House Democratic lawmakers fled the state on Monday in an attempt to block the passage of controversial, Republican-backed voting reform legislation.
By leaving, the state Democrats intentionally denied Republican state lawmakers the quorum needed to hold a vote on the election reform legislation.
Among the proposals in the new legislation, which is not unlike recent bills passed in Georgia and Arizona, is a requirement to provide ID when voting by mail, as well as the addition of tougher penalties on election workers who commit illegal acts. The bill also grants additional rights to poll watchers.
“Determined” to kill the bill
The state’s Democrats headed to Washington D.C., where Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner held a press conference on Monday evening.
“We are determined to kill this bill in this special session that will end on August 7,” he said, according to CBS News. “We will stay out until then in order to do that. There is no more time. We must pass strong federal voter protection legislation.”
However, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot released a statement that condemned the move and called on Texas’ representatives to “put aside partisan political games that they were elected to do.”
“Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the Texas Legislature and abandon the Texas State Capitol inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve,” Abbott’s statement read.
He went on to cite other issues that the lawmakers were expected to deal with, adding, “Their constituents must not be denied these important resources simply because their elected representative refused to show up to work.”
Ted Cruz predicts arrests
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) slammed the fleeing Democrats, telling Fox News on Tuesday that the state can use force, in the form of making arrests, to bring the Democrats back and force them to carry on business as usual.
“Under the Texas Constitution, there’s a provision that explicitly gives the speaker the authority to arrest fleeing House members,” Cruz noted.
The Texas Republican added: “That provision is copied word for word from the U.S. Constitution. And so this stunt is going to fail. They’re going to come back. There’s going to be a quorum.”
“And I believe the legislature is going to do its job and protect the integrity of elections. Ensure people can vote, but also ensure that we don’t have fraud, that we don’t have people casting illegal votes,” Cruz said.