Texas Democrats, doing everything they can do to prevent Republicans from enacting legislation that would suppress the vote among Black and Brown people, are about to make a break for it. NBC News is reporting that at least 58 members of the Texas House of Representatives are planning to bolt from the state capital of Austin Monday afternoon and fly to Washington, D.C.
By doing so they hope to prevent there being a quorum that would enable the Republican-majority body from voting to approve the voting restriction measure, which Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged to sign. After Democrats walked out of the House last month to prevent a vote on the measure, Abbott threatened – and followed through on the threat – to call a special session of the House in an effort to ram through the law. Abbott also vetoed a portion of the state’s budget that paid legislators and their staffs in an effort to force them back into session.
The Democrats’ Monday gambit would paralyze the special session of the House. A majority of the members were planning to fly to the nation’s capital on two private, chartered jets and use their time in Washington to rally support for federal legislation that would protect voting rights.
The lawmakers’ move is not without personal risk and they could be arrested. Under the Texas Constitution the legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds of members to be present. Lawmakers who do not show up legally can be compelled to return to the capital of Austin. The state’s Department of Public Safety can be enlisted to track them down and physically return them.
On Sunday Texans wanting to testify against the proposed voter restrictions were kept waiting for more than 15 hours.