But it is not clear whether a walkout would be successful a second time. MPs on both sides of the aisle have indirectly warned that all options are on the table to ensure that election legislation becomes law or not. But in any event, Republicans intend to move quickly on the Election Bill, meaning any walkout would have to take potentially weeks, not hours, to succeed.
Republicans in both chambers introduced election legislation almost immediately when the special session began Thursday. The bills contained many provisions similar to SB7, election legislation that failed earlier in the year, which would have added several new restrictions on voting in the state.
They are looking to move quickly. Both the Senate and House of States committees have scheduled hearings on electoral legislation for Saturday morning, and Republican state leaders insist it is a top priority after their failure. previous. “We are ready to pass all laws on [GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s] Special session call beginning with # SB1 – Election Security, ”tweeted Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who is also the head of the state Senate.
Republicans working on the bills, which are similar but not identical in both chambers, believe the party will be able to avoid the infighting that helped condemn their attempts in the regular legislative session.
“I think we have Republican buy-in in both houses,” said GOP state representative Jacey Jetton, who sits on the special House committee overseeing the elections bill.
He noted that due to negotiations in ordinary session, any further discussion this time could be accelerated. Republicans are also hoping that a conference committee, where the two bills are merged, and other procedural hurdles don’t slow them down this time around.
“There are a lot of criticisms to be made as to why this was not completed last session. But I think one of the factors, as much at fault as anything, was the ticking of the clock, ”said State Representative Travis Clardy, another Republican member of the select committee. “It’s like watching a football game, and the team moves the ball, but the clock goes to zero before you get it in the end zone. It happens in politics. And so maybe we need to hone our clock management skills.
“What’s different here is procedurally, we’re moving forward tomorrow… our third day of a 30-day special session. We therefore have more than enough time to move it forward, ”continued Clardy.
Both men said that depending on a committee vote being held this weekend, the bill could see the State House floor as early as next week.
The Senate version of the new bill retained provisions banning drive-by voting and 24-hour advance voting – two practices piloted by the increasingly Democratic and Houston-based Harris County during the pandemic – banned Election officials widely distribute postal ballot requests and adds new identification requirements for requesting a postal ballot. He also maintains proposals to add a host of criminal and civil penalties for election officials.
Some of the more controversial provisions of SB7 have not returned, at least in the first draft of the bill, such as the effective ban on Souls to the Polls events – which are popular election campaigns in black churches – and the establishment of a lower standard of proof to overturn an election due to allegations of fraud. Republicans have since attributed the errors to drafting errors in record time, but the bill’s author in the Senate defended Sunday voting restrictions on the floor at the time.
Austin Democrats promise to oppose the election bill throughout the session. They also hope that organizing another fight would push Congress Democrats to pass the For the People Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. Both bills face a grim future in Washington. Democrats lack 50 votes in the Senate on the For the People Act, with Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) calling for a smaller package, and both bills reportedly face Republican-led obstructions.
“We are going to fight with all our might here in Texas. We hold the line, ”said Democratic State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, who helped lead the initial walkout and was also part of the delegation that visited Washington. “But we need our federal men and women, the United States Senate, to step up. “
Texas Democrats are openly discussing the possibility of another walkout, or some sort of disruption, to try to stop the election proposals in the special session and gain attention.
“All of these options are on the table,” said Martinez Fischer. “The initial walkout in May was not an exercise in vanity. When asked if the potential of a longer clutch release than May had made any difference, he replied, “It doesn’t at all. Just an extra pair of socks. The Democratic caucus is more united than ever and our resolve is strong enough. “
But Republicans are keenly aware of the threats this time around. “My fellow Democrats would have said all options are on the table,” House Speaker Dade Phelan told KXAN in an interview. “Respectfully, all options are on the table for me too. Phelan’s office did not respond to a question from POLITICO asking for an explanation of what those options were, but state rules allow the president to order the doors to be locked and the Sergeant-at-Arms to hunt them down. missing members, which he did not prosecute The Democrats walked out in the regular session.
But angry Democrats are not discouraged. “I don’t care if Republicans know I’m going to break the quorum,” Johnson said. “How are they going to stop me?