The Democrats have won against the Republicans in a fractured legislature. Party members from Texas pulled off a dramatic walkout from the House of Representatives on Sunday night and thus blocked the passage of one of the most restrictive voting bills in the United States of America. As it turned out, Republicans had no option but to abandon a midnight deadline and declare the legislative session essentially over.
The revolt is one of the Democrats’ biggest protests to date against GOP’s efforts nationwide to impose stricter election laws, and they used the spotlight to urge President Biden to act on voting rights. But the victory may be fleeting: Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who had declared new voting laws a priority in Texas, quickly announced he would order a special session to finish the job.
He called the failure of the bill “deeply disappointing” but did not say when he would drag lawmakers back to work. One by one, Democrats left the chamber until there was no longer the 100member quorum needed to pass Senate Bill 7, which would have reduced polling hours, empowered poll watchers and scaled back ways to vote in Texas, which already has some of the nation’s strictest voting laws.
The Bill is known as the Election Integrity Protection Act. They gathered later outside a Black church, underscoring their anger over a lastminute change to the Texas bill that would have prohibited Sunday voting before 1 p.m., when many Black worshipers go to the polls. Democrats said they did not go to the House intending to break quorum, but instead became fed up after Republicans repeatedly refused to take their questions while racing to pass the bill.
Profoundly significant, therefore, must be the defeat of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. The Texas Senate had signed off before sunrise earlier on Sunday after Republicans, who hold an 18-13 majority in the chamber, used what they call a bare-knuckle procedural move to suspend rules and take up the measure in the middle of the night.
But as the day wore on in the House, the GOP’s chances wobbled. State Representative Chris Turner, the Democratic House leader, said he sent a text message to members of his caucus at 10:35 p.m. telling them to leave the chamber. But by that point, the exodus was already well under way. Texas is the last big battleground in the GOP’s nationwide efforts to tighten voting laws, driven by Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Georgia and Florida have also passed new voting restrictions, and President Biden on Saturday unfavourably compared Texas’ bill to election changes in those states as “an assault on democracy.” The 67-page measure would also have eliminated drive-through voting and 24-hour polling centres, both of which Harris County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold, introduced last year. The two parties have fallen out on a deeply critical issue.