• Mon. Sep 20th, 2021

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Texas Gov. Abbott says he’ll target legislators’ pay after Democrats block restrictive voting bill

Democrats vowed to continue to fight a Texas bill that would add restrictions on voting as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott threatened to cut off funding for the Legislature if they do so.

“I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch,” Abbott tweeted Monday. “No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned.”

Texas Democrats used every parliamentary tool at their disposal Sunday night to stop the bill, ultimately walking out to prevent a vote before the midnight deadline. Abbott said the bill would be added to a special session agenda to pass it. He did not announce a date for the special session.

May 31, 202109:19

State Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said he and his colleagues in the state House will continue their fight, and he called on Congress to pass legislation on the national level that would protect voting.

“We’re going to fight him every step of the way, we’re going to fight Republicans every step of the way, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to continue to stop, slow down and mitigate this legislation.” Turner said Monday on CNN.

Democrats across the country threw their support behind efforts to block the bill as Texas shapes up to be the next battleground over voting rights. President Joe Biden said over the weekend that the bill was an “assault on democracy.”

Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee, who has been leading the push for voting access in her state, tweeted: “Congratulations to the Texas Democrats, activists and advocates for protecting the freedom to vote until the very last hour to defeat the Jim Crow 2.0 bill#SB7. This is what happens when we fight.”

The Texas bill, known as Senate Bill 7, passed the Senate along party lines early Sunday after an all-night debate. The bill came up in the House for final approval Sunday evening. But after hours of debate and delaying tactics, the chamber adjourned after Democratic lawmakers left in protest, breaking a quorum and ending debate. At least 100 legislators must be present to conduct business.

The sweeping bill would limit voting hours, make it more difficult to vote by mail and empower partisan poll watchers. The final version would also preserve the elimination of 24-hour polling stations and drive-thru voting centers, both of which Harris County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold, introduced last year in an election that had record turnout.

The bill would also prohibit Sunday voting before 1 p.m., which critics said was an attack on what is commonly known as “souls to the polls” — a get-out-the vote campaign used by Black church congregations nationwide. The idea traces to the civil rights movement. Democratic state Rep. Nicole Collier, chairwoman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said the change would “disengage, disenfranchise those who use the souls-to-the-polls opportunity.”

Elements were hashed out behind closed doors, and Democrats have argued that they were left largely in the dark as last-minute changes and entirely new provisions were pushed through.