Texas House Democrats blocked passage of a sweeping election reform bill by staging a walkout, denying Republicans the minimum number of lawmakers required to hold a vote. Democrats walked out of the chamber just ahead of Sunday's midnight deadline for legislation to clear the chamber. Senate Bill 7, which had earlier passed the Senate, would tighten Texas voting law by requiring ID for absentee ballots and banning practices like drive-through and 24-hour voting. Democrats claim the bill would suppress votes, particularly those of minorities who tend to vote Democrat.
Democrats may have denied the legislation for the regular session, but they likely only delayed it until a special session. Gov. Greg Abbott released the following statement shortly after the walkout:
"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."
Meanwhile, the Texas Freedom Caucus--a group of conservative House members--is calling for even stronger action by the governor. The Freedom Caucus released the following statement:
"Tonight, House Democrats took their voting keys, abandoned their posts, and killed the election integrity bill through breaking quorum.
We reaffirm our call for an immediate special session on election integrity and every single other conservative priority that failed to pass this session, from banning gender modification of children to ending taxpayer-funded lobbying."