Texas Democrats walked off the state House floor late Sunday night, essentially blocking the passage of one of the most restrictive voting bills in the country.
But the blockage may be temporary.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is supportive of the new voting laws a priority in Texas, announced that he would order a special session to complete the bill’s passage.
“Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session,” Abbott said.
Senate Bill 7, known as the Election Integrity Protection Act, passed the state Senate early Sunday morning. After hours of debate, Democratic lawmakers walked out in protest. At least 100 lawmakers must be present to conduct business.
“We’ve said for so many years that we want more people to participate in our democracy. And it just seems that’s not the case,” Democratic Rep. Carl Sherman said.
Since former president Donald Trump was voted out of office, the GOP has been working overtime to pass heavily restrictive laws across the country. The sweeping bill would outlaw drive-thru voting, limit voting hours and make it more challenging to cast mail ballots. The new legislation will mostly impact communities of color.
During the debate, Republicans refused to respond to questions from the Democrats about what the restrictive bill would do.
“We used all the tools in our toolbox to fight this bill, and tonight we pulled out that last one,” said Rep. Nicole Collier, chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. “We are no longer going to stand and let them continue to push measures that disenfranchise our voters.”
“There’s no widespread voter fraud. And so for them to mislead all of Texas into believing that there’s an issue — we’re going to call them out for that,” Collier added. “We may have won the war tonight, but the battle is not over.”
President Joe Biden called the bill “wrong and un-American,” noting that it was “part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year — and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.”