Texas Gov. Abbott says he'll target lawmaker pay after Dems block restrictive voting bill

Texas Gov. Abbott says he’ll target lawmaker pay after Dems block restrictive voting bill

WASHINGTON — Democrats vowed to continue to fight a Texas bill that would put new restrictions on voting as the state’s Republican governor threatened to cut off funding for the Legislature if they do so.

“I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday. “No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned.”

The threat to lawmakers came after Texas Democrats on Sunday night used every parliamentary tool at their disposal to stop the bill, ultimately staging a walkout to prevent a vote from being held before a midnight deadline. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said that the bill would be added to a special session agenda in an attempt to get it passed. Abbott did not announce a date for the special session.

Texas state Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said he and his colleagues in the state House will continue their fight, but called on Congress to pass legislation on the national level that would provide voting protections.

“We’re gonna fight him every step of the way, we’re gonna fight Republicans every step of the way and we’re gonna do whatever it takes to continue to stop, slow down, and mitigate this legislation.” Turner told CNN on Monday.

Democrats across the country threw their support behind efforts to block the bill as Texas shapes up to be the next battleground over voting rights. President Joe Biden said over the weekend that the bill was an “assault on Democracy.”

“Congratulations to the Texas Democrats, activists and advocates for protecting the freedom to vote until the very last hour to defeat the Jim Crow 2.0 bill #SB7. This is what happens when we fight,” tweeted Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee, who has been leading the push for voting access in her state.

The Texas bill, known as Senate Bill 7, passed the state Senate along party lines early Sunday morning after an all-night debate. The bill came up in the state House Sunday evening for final approval. But after hours of debate and delaying tactics, the chamber adjourned after Democratic lawmakers left in protest, breaking quorum and ending debate. At least 100 lawmakers must be present to conduct business.

The sweeping bill would limit voting hours, make it more difficult to cast mail ballots and empower partisan poll watchers. The final version would also preserve the elimination of 24-hour polling stations and drive-thru voting centers, both of which Harris County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold, introduced last year in an election that saw record turnout.

The bill would also prohibit Sunday voting before 1 p.m., which critics called an attack on what is commonly known as “souls to the polls” — a get-out-the vote campaign used by Black church congregations nationwide. The idea traces back to the civil rights movement. Democratic state Rep. Nicole Collier, chairwoman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said the change is “going to disengage, disenfranchise those who use the souls to the polls opportunity.”

Elements were hashed out behind closed doors, and Democrats have argued they were left largely in the dark as last-minute changes and entirely new provisions were pushed through.

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