Members of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus held a press conference Wednesday to update Texans on their work and progress while advocating for voting rights protections.
Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives left the state Monday, July 12, to Washington, D.C., in an effort to deny Republicans the quorum needed to pass new voting restrictions with 26 days left in a special legislative session called largely for that purpose.
House Democrats boarded two planes out of Austin headed for the U.S. capital without a set return date. At least 51 of the 67 Democratic representatives — the number needed to break quorum -- departed in a mass exodus to the nation’s Capitol.
Democrats currently lack the votes to keep the Republican-controlled Legislature from passing new voting restrictions, along with the other conservative priorities on Gov. Greg Abbott’s 11-item agenda for the special session.
On Wednesday, the members wanted to stand together against Senate Bill 1 and say it affects all voters, not just Democrats.
Sen. John Whitmire said the state is facing a new agenda by having a special session. Whitmire said Gov. Greg Abbott is not listening to both sides of the party.
“We cannot continue to divide this state by parties,” he said. “We’re all in this together. We are concerned about the impact the election proposal will have on Republican voters.”
Whitmore also criticized Abbott on his threats to arrest House or Senator members who left the special legislation, saying it is a nonstarter and asked for him to welcome members into his office.
“Just remember you represent our districts as well as the remainder of our colleagues’ districts,” he said. “We deserved to be respected and listened to.”
Sen. Borris Miles said the bill is discriminatory, divisive and suppressive and that it is focused on minorities.
“The is a Senate bill that was designed and created because what took place in Harris County, my district, Senate District 13, the largest Democratic box in the state of Texas,” Miles said.
He said the county found ways to get its residents to vote and keep them safe during the pandemic. Miles stated that there was no fraud found in Harris County and said that the bill was created from a “fear factor.”