After Texas Democrats attempted to break quorum and prevent the Texas GOP from passing Senate Measure 7, the GOP voting rights bill, on Sunday night, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott retaliated by threatening to veto the state legislature’s budget, preventing the members from being paid.
“I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature,” Abbott tweeted. “Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned.”
I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature.
Article 10 funds the legislative branch.
No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 31, 2021
Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives walked out on Sunday to block a vote on voting rules that would remove several of the COVID-era voting protections from coming forward.
By breaking the quorum required for a final vote on the bill, Democratic MPs were able to temporarily reject it.
For the chamber to undertake business, at least 100 members have to be present, according to state House rules.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, on the other hand, is calling a special session to reconsider the measure in order for the GOP-controlled state legislature to adopt it.
Abbott took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the situation, writing:
“I declared Election Integrity and Bail Reform to be must-pass emergency items for this legislative session. It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither will reach my desk. Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas. They will be added to the special session agenda. Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 31, 2021
The walkout appeared to be led by state Rep. Chris Turner (D), the chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
Turner, according to multiple media reports, sent a text message to fellow Democrats telling them to “leave the chamber discreetly” before the midnight deadline.
Following the walkout, Democratic MPs confirmed their decision, claiming they utilized their “final tool” to defeat the bill on Sunday.
“We denied the quorum that they needed to pass this bill and we killed that bill,” Turner told reporters.
“One of the many great traditions of the African American church in this country is ‘Souls to the Polls.’ … Republicans were determined to take that away.”
Members are about to go live in a press conference following their historic quorum break from Mt. Zion Church in East Austin.
Watch live: https://t.co/Ulu3RZxjUD
And follow along here for updates #txlege
— Texas House Democrats (@TexasHDC) May 31, 2021
“The Texas House Republican Caucus condemns the actions of their colleagues in the Texas House who chose to vacate their Constitutional responsibility and leave millions of Texans without resolution on key issues in the final hours of the legislative session. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/laMJRBbM68
— Texas House Republican Caucus (@TXGOPCaucus) May 31, 2021
The Texas House Republican Caucus reacted to the move by denouncing their colleagues’ behavior.
“The Texas House Republican Caucus condemns the actions of their colleagues in the Texas House who chose to vacate their Constitutional responsibility and leave millions of Texans without resolution on key issues in the final hours of the legislative session,” the statement said.
“These individuals quit on their constituents and they quit on Texas. The Caucus is fully committed to taking all necessary steps to deliver on election integrity and bail reform, two issues flagged by our governor as emergency items.”
Watch it here: Youtube/WFAA
According to local media, the bill was approved in the Senate primarily along party lines after an overnight debate that lasted into the morning on May 30.
The bill would give poll watchers more power by allowing them more access inside polling places and imposing new sanctions for election officials who restrict poll watchers’ movements.
The proposal also allows a court to declare an election void if the number of fraudulent ballots cast may influence the results.
According to the bill, officials who provide mail-in ballots to those who did not seek them may face criminal consequences.
Texas has made a significant step to combat potential voter fraud.
The United States Supreme Court rejected a Democratic proposal to expand mail-in voting in Texas back in April.
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Democrats went to court to try to allow all eligible voters in Texas to vote by mail during last year’s election cycle, including the presidential election.
However, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision in favor of Texas in the lawsuit.