Gov. Abbott, House Democrats in DC spar over stalled bail reform bill

HOUSTON – On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott continued to hammer members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, who are breaking quorum in Washington, D.C.

During a visit to Crimestoppers of Houston for a ceremonial bill signing creating a new law cracking down on the illegal sale of Fentanyl, Abbott pivoted to the bail reform bill that is in danger of not passing.

“The safety of our communities are at risk,” he said in a press conference.

One of the governor’s priority pieces of legislation, the bill would make it harder for repeat violent offenders accused of crimes to get bail.

Abbott blamed Texas House Democrats for the violent crimes, including murders that have happened since they walked out of the regular session in May.

“If this bail reform had become law during the regular session which it had voted to go into law effective immediately, lives could have been saved. Every day that we don’t have this bail reform passed, which now means it’s going to be months perhaps, there’s going to be more people who lose their lives,” he said.

Democrats say the bail reform bill needs work.

“I’m not for violent offenders being out on the streets. I think they need to stay behind bars, but we don’t need to penalize people who are not repeat or violent offenders, so we don’t need to have a one size fits all approach. there are a lot of low-level offenders that would not be able to make bail under Governor Abbott’s proposal. Governor Abbott is really trying to do something to benefit the pockets of the bail industry,” said Representative Ron Reynolds.

Representative Gene Wu told KPRC 2 Abbott is deflecting from his own failures.

“He’s the governor of the state of Texas, Republicans control every single chamber, every single office in this entire state. Why didn’t they fix this five years ago? Why wait till now? It’s the governor’s own fault for not doing this. If the governor had been a better leader throughout this process, if he had been willing to make compromises, if he had listened to the advocates who had told them that what he was trying to do was unconstitutional, we could have passed this not only this year but we could pass it in many years ago,” he said.

Republican state senator Joan Huffman of Houston, who co-authored the bill, said it had already been “highly negotiated.”

“I have made many changes to the bill that first appeared in regular session. This bill was compromised, worked on. It’s common sense,” she said.

So far least two House Democrats have left their counterparts in D.C. to return to Austin, Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston and Philip Cortez of San Antonio.

Abbott has pledged to continue to call special sessions every 30 days until his legislative agenda is passed.

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