Texas House Quorum: Over 60 Lone Star legislators flew to the nation’s capital in an attempt to deny Texas Republicans the quorum required to conduct business in the state chamber. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Texas House Quorum
Earlier this week in Washington DC, a group of Texas Democrats urged Congress to pass legislation surrounding voting rights — not just in their state, but across the country. Over 60 Lone Star legislators flew in a private jet to the nation’s capital on Monday and Tuesday in an attempt to deny Texas Republicans the quorum required to conduct business in the state chamber. “In Austin, House Republicans authorized state troopers to find and corral missing legislators, while a depleted but still-working state Senate passed new voting restrictions in a show of GOP resolve,” the Associated Press reported. “The Democrats’ dramatic exodus was in part aimed at rallying their voters on what they see as a priority issue ahead of the 2022 midterms, and at pressuring President Joe Biden to act as federal voting legislation has stalled for months in the Senate.” Here’s what both sides are saying about Texas Democrats’ mad dash:
On The Left
Left-leaning representatives and commentators admit the Texas Democrats’ gambit is questionable, but they applaud their efforts to shed light on what they believe is a paramount issue heading into the 2022 midterm: expanding voting rights.
“Texas state rep: Why I flew to the nation’s capital” Ron Reynolds, Democratic state representative from Texas, CNN: “… it’s time that our United States Congress hears from the front lines of the anti-voter movement — a movement driven by extremists seeking to essentially reinstitute the days of Jim Crow by attacking measures disproportionately used by voters of color — that is sweeping our nation. … The record voter turnout during the 2020 election that delivered a victory to President Joe Biden has renewed GOP efforts to ensure that only certain people have access to the ballot box. Dozens of states with Republican legislatures are using the disingenuous concerns of ‘voter fraud’ and ‘ballot security’ to consider restricting the voting methods that helped millions of voters cast ballots during the pandemic. … Together, we can ensure that everyone is free to cast their ballot and dismantle the pains of racism gripping our nation. … We were forced to flee Texas and have come to DC to ask our Congress to act now and pass both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”
“Texas Democrats’ voting bill walkout deserves national backup” Hayes Brown, MSNBC Opinion Columnist: “In case you needed a reminder, there was no widespread fraud in Texas last year — or anywhere — that would justify this crackdown on voting. … And yet here we are, as this bill joins a wave of others based almost entirely on Trump’s lies that the election was stolen from him. With that as motivation, no wonder Democrats were united in skipping town. … They deserve nothing less than a hero’s welcome in Washington from congressional Democrats and the Democratic National Committee. The DNC should be paying for their expenses, especially given Abbott’s petty veto of the Legislature’s funding after the last walkout. And the door of every Democratic senator should be open to them to make their case. … These 50-plus state lawmakers are risking arrest to prevent more hurdles from being placed in their voters’ way to the ballot box. I’d love to see that same energy from Washington Democrats on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.”
“Weak Democrats Got Texas Into This Mess” Richard Parker, New York Times Opinion: “This is a cautionary tale of what can go wrong in America when there is not a strong Democratic Party to check an increasingly undemocratic Republican Party and force it into moderation. Bipartisanship may be a pipe dream, but if America doesn’t want to wind up like Texas, it should pay attention to what has gone awfully wrong in the Lone Star State. Democrats everywhere have to get tough. … Unconstrained Republican politicians plunge further to the right in large part because there is no institutional Democratic Party to snap them back toward the middle. Republicans have better organization, volunteers, and, most important, better fund-raising. … If Democrats have any hope of avoiding this future, their donors will have to take big risks — in long-shot races in states like Texas — and be ready to lose money. Democratic politicians will have to buck up. In Washington, that means running roughshod over the filibuster and smashing Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s power in the Senate. Forget bipartisanship. Remember Texas.”
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators think Texas Democrats’ latest stunt is quite frankly a little embarrassing. They think the lawmakers and President Biden are exaggerating the voting amendments in the legislation for partisan gain. They also question how DC Democrats can defend Texas Democrats’ obstruction but not support the filibuster.
“Joe Biden, Jim Crow, and Texas Voting” The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: “The Democratic narrative on voting is becoming unglued. ‘The 21st-century Jim Crow assault is real,’ President Biden claimed Tuesday. ‘We’re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War—that’s not hyperbole,’ he said in the same speech. … This partisan rhetoric is detached from the facts. What’s proposed in Texas? First, the bills would end two practices … pioneered last year amid the pandemic: drive-through voting and 24-hour voting. … Perhaps they made sense when every Texan was urged to stay six feet from every other Texan. But if the Legislature doesn’t want them to be permanent, then reverting to the pre-COVID status quo of 2019 is not some epochal loss for voting rights. … The argument is not that these bills are perfect, because no election system is. The point is that they are not some ‘un-American’ throwback to Jim Crow, as Mr. Biden claims. If Texas Democrats think one provision or another is wrong, then they should stay in Austin and argue the case to the public. They claim to be fighting for democracy, even as they deny a quorum to prevent democracy from functioning.”
“Texas Democrats admit their failure as an opposition party” Zachary Faria, Washington Examiner: “For years, Democrats have insisted that they are on the verge of turning Texas blue. With Democratic state legislators fleeing the state, it seems they have finally given up on their dream. … Now, it appears they have surrendered the state entirely, literally abandoning it and their jobs … Surely, nothing is more endearing to Texans than politicians funded by taxpayer dollars, skipping out on their jobs to demand Washington overrule their own state laws. … This is nothing more than Texas Democrats accepting that ‘blue Texas’ is not their destiny. … That, or they really think this gambit is actually going to work. But if you thought that the natural winds of the 2022 midterm elections were going to favor Republicans before, just wait until Texas Democrats have to face voters in the state they fled in order to become the pawns of liberals from New York City and California.”
“Senate Dems on Fleeing Texas Lawmakers: Actually, Obstruction Is Good” John McCormack, National Review: “The national Democrats’ embrace of the fugitive Texas legislators is more than a little awkward. Right now, most US Senate Democrats are railing against the filibuster, which requires 60 senators to end debate on most bills. In the US Senate, a quorum of 51 senators is necessary to conduct business, and Democrats only hold 50 seats (owing their majority to Harris’s tie-breaking vote). How would Democratic US senators respond if all 50 Senate Republicans fled the Capitol to deny a quorum? … There are several reasons why Republicans in the US Senate would never actually flee the Capitol to deny a quorum during the 117th Congress. There’s not an issue on the horizon that would tempt all 50 Republicans to do it, and such an extraordinary act of obstruction would give Democrats a reason to abolish the filibuster.”
Flag This: Texas House Quorum
According to the Texas Tribune, the Texas voting bill in question would, among other items, ban drive-thru voting, enact new regulations for early voting hours (including a ban on 24-hour voting), prohibit the distribution of mail-in ballot applications, and dictate new ID requirements for voting by mail. Interestingly enough, “American adults overwhelmingly support both making in-person early voting easier and voter ID laws that critics say are unfairly discriminatory,” Alison Durkee notes for Forbes. This is according to a new Monmouth poll that “found overwhelming support for certain proposals that would expand voter access.” The same poll found “an overwhelming majority (81%) of respondents also said they support voters being required to show ID in order to vote, including 62% of Democrats, even as critics contend voter ID laws suppress turnout and unfairly discriminate against groups like low-income, elderly, and minority voters.” In plain English, this means most Americans want voting to be easier and support voter ID requirements. Compromise is a pretty neat concept, if only lawmakers on both sides could swallow their pride.
According to Nick Natario of ABC 13 in Austin, Texas, the “state constitution protects pay for lawmakers who break quorum and leave the state during a special session. Lawmakers receive a $221 daily stipend, a $600 monthly salary, and staff budget.” This means that “If Democrats don’t return by the end of the special session, taxpayers will have spent about $1,040,000 on lawmakers to sit around.” Speaking of expenses, who paid for the Democrats’ private jet? The Texas Tribune has the answer.
Flag Poll: Texas House Quorum
Do you support or oppose the Texas Democrats’ ditching town to go to DC? Comment below to share your thoughts.