Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Texas Exodus

From the BBC:

Democratic politicians in Texas have left their state en masse in an effort to prevent Republicans there from passing a law to tighten voting rules.

The move will temporarily paralyse the state’s House of Representatives, which requires at least two-thirds of the 150 members be present for a vote.

At least 50 House Democrats boarded two private jets from Austin to Washington DC on Monday.

The move comes amid a wave of voting restrictions in Republican-led states.

Republicans argue the measures are essential for election security but Democrats see them as an attack on the right to vote.

The bill in Texas would ban 24-hour polling places and expand the authority of partisan poll watchers. A first vote is planned later this week.

The House lawmakers took off on Monday afternoon. When they landed in Washington DC, the Democrats said they would not return until the 30-day special session had ended next month.

Under Texas House rules, absent politicians can be arrested and returned to the house floor. But the authority responsible does not have jurisdiction outside Texas.

The plan is to lobby Congress to pass the federal voting rights bills.

Speaking to reporters at Dulles International Airport, Texas Democratic leaders vowed to stay away from the state until Aug. 7, when the 30-day special session would end.

“We are determined to kill this bill,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said.

In a statement, Turner and other leaders also pledged to pressure Congress to pass new federal voting protections.

“We are now taking the fight to our nation’s Capitol. We are living on borrowed time in Texas,” Turner and four other top Democrats said in the statement. “We need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect Texans — and all Americans — from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy.”

The move came a day before President Biden travels to Philadelphia to pitch his administration’s efforts to protect voting rights amid escalating tensions with civil rights leaders concerned about a nationwide push for new restrictions by Republican leaders — and about stalled efforts to pass federal legislation.

This may be the only way to kill off these Jim Crow 2.0 laws. Now it’s up to Congress. I’m not holding my breath.

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