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In an 18: 4 vote, Senate Republicans passed the controversial bill that Democrats and voter rights advocates say will suppress votes for people of color and people with disabilities.
As many as 58 Texas Democrats scrambled to Washington, DC, Monday and Tuesday, in a bid to deny Republicans the quorum required to conduct House business. However, on Tuesday, the Senate still maintained a quorum with 22 of its 31 members present, allowing that chamber to vote and pass Senate Bill 1.
The legislation will languish unless Texas Democrats return to the state before the end of the 30-day special session called by GOP Governor Greg Abbott. Abbott threatened to arrest state lawmakers upon their return, according to the Associated Press.
Texas is among several states that have passed laws restricting voter access, following repeated false claims by former President Donald Trump that the 2020 election was stolen through fraud generalized electoral system. The departure of the Democrats only reinforces state and national debates on voting rights.
Among the proposals included in the bill passed on Tuesday are a ban on drive-by voting, limits on 24-hour voting options and new identification requirements for absent voters. The bill would also prohibit local authorities from sending postal ballot requests to voters who are not eligible to vote by mail.
Democrats argued that the bill proposed by GOP senators was an attack on voting rights designed to suppress voter turnout.
“They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think it would have a negative outcome, especially for brown and black voters in the state of Texas and in other states that are passing similar style legislation,” the said. representing Marc. Veasey, one of the Democrats who fled, in a statement Tuesday.
However, Republicans maintain the law would secure the electoral process, even dubbing it the “Texas Election Integrity Bill”.
“This bill is intended to make it both easy to vote and harder to cheat,” Senator Bryan Hughes, the bill’s author, reported the Texas Tribune on Tuesday.
Hughes blamed the backlash of his bill on a “horrific, deceptive and bogus national debate originating in Washington,” according to the Tribune.
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“We also know that we are living on borrowed time in Texas, and we cannot stay here indefinitely to run out of time to stop the anti-election attacks by Republicans,” said Representative Rhetta Bowers, another Democrat who fled. , in a press release. statement Tuesday. “That’s why we need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act. Texas Democrats will do everything in our power to fight back. But we need Congress to act now. “
Vice President Kamala Harris met with Texas Democrats on Tuesday, and Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., is also expected to meet with them. Manchin did not respond on Tuesday when asked if he would support an exclusion in Senate filibustering to pass a voting rights law. He has already opposed changes to filibuster.
President Joe Biden also delivered a major speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday that condemned his predecessor’s “big lie” about a stolen election. The president called on Congress to pass the For The People Act and reinstate the Voting Rights Act.
More than 150 companies, including Amazon, Target and PepsiCo, also backed the updated voting rights law in a new letter released on Wednesday, NBC News reported.