HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — On Monday Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives left the state and flew to Washington D.C. to protest a controversial election bill that would limit who could receive mail-in-ballots and when and where people could vote.
At the end of the legislative session in May, Texas House Democrats walked out of the State House to make sure Senate Bill 7 did not pass. On Monday, they went even further.
Around 50 Democratic State representatives flew on a private plane from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. in order to stop a quorum from being formed in the state legislature.
“We are not going to help slit our own throats by pushing these outrageous voter suppression bills and a few other things that the Governor has put on the special session,” said Alex Dominguez, the representative for District 37 in Brownsville.
He said the group of Democrats hoped the trip to Washington would inspire their federal colleagues to work to pass federal voting rights bills that would supersede any state bills.
He said the group of Democrats was sacrificing a lot.
“I myself had to leave my wife and my two-year-old son, and I’m leaving my work behind. We can do this for a while, but at some point it becomes untenable, so we need the Congress and Senate to act quickly,” said Dominguez.
Governor Greg Abbott said the group was abandoning the capitol and teachers, children in foster care, and law enforcement by not staying to work on other bills.
“The person here who has abandoned their responsibility is the Governor. The Governor is the governor for the entire state. Every Texan is his constituent, but he seems to be focused only on the 30% of his base that are die-hard Trump loyalists,” said Dominguez.
The move to leave the state to avoid a quorum for the special session is something the Democratic members have been discussing for a while, Dominguez told KVEO.
He added that it shows just how serious Democratic representatives are about getting House Republicans to negotiate on the bills under review this special session.
“Clearly, these bills are being pushed by the Governor and they felt beholden to that. And because of that, they left us no choice. But we told them that we would do something if they didn’t come to the table, and they refused to come to the table,” said Dominguez.
The special session began on July 8 and runs for 30 days.
Dominguez told KVEO that there was no set timeline for the Democrats to return, but he had personally packed for a 30 day stay away from the state.
If the Democrats’ tactic does not work to force Republicans to negotiate on the bills, and they stay away from Texas for the remainder of the special session, Governor Abbott can call a new one.
In fact, there is no limit to the number of special sessions the Governor can call in between the normal legislative sessions, which occur every two years in Texas.