A "Temporarily Closed" sign blocks the entry to the House Chamber at the State Capitol, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in Austin, Texas. The Texas Legislature closed out its regular session Monday, but are expected to return for a special session after Texas Democrats blocked one of the nation's most restrictive new voting laws with a walkout. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Texas GOP to revive voting bill, Democrats plot next move

Texas GOP to revive voting bill, Democrats plot next move

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republicans pressed ahead with their push for tougher election laws Tuesday, vowing to ensure Democrats’ weekend victory over one the most restrictive voting measures in the country would only be temporary.

GOP Gov. Greg Abbott prepared to call lawmakers back for a special session to revive the voting measure that died when Democrats staged a dramatic walkout from the state Capitol just before end of the legislative session Sunday night. Bolstered by GOP majorities in both the House and Senate, Abbott also was weighing whether to use the extra session to take up other top conservative priorities that had failed during the session.

That left Texas Democrats facing the aftermath of their last-minute maneuver and confronting how — or even whether — they can turn it into more than just temporary roadblock in the GOP’s nationwide pursuit to impose tighter voting laws across the U.S.

“There are consequences,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, one of Texas’ longest-serving Democrats.

Democrats who pulled off the revolt in the state House of Representatives just before a midnight deadline Sunday did not leave indefinitely. Most were back on the House floor just 12 hours later for ceremonial business, and none are calling to boycott a special session.

They are instead betting their dramatic flight out of the Texas Capitol and to a Black church will make Republicans think twice about some provisions in the legislation — like banning early voting Sunday morning, when many Black worshippers go to the polls after service — and give them more say on the next elections bill.

But bare-knuckled Republican governing is a way of life in the Texas Capitol and no concessions are so far promised. Abbott, meanwhile, has has begun both punishing and taunting Democrats while he settles on deciding on when he will order them back to work.

He said Monday he would veto the part of the budget that funds legislators’ salaries, a move that could impact not just Democrats but also other Capitol staff. He then tweeted a reminder of the last time Texas Democrats dramatically blocked a bill: when then-state Sen. Wendy Davis talked for more than 11 consecutive hours in 2013 to filibuster a sweeping anti-abortion measure, which Republicans immediately revived and passed in a special session.

“We all know how that story ended,” Abbott tweeted.

Texas Republicans may also enter a 30-day special session with not just commanding majorities, but new leverage. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the staunchly conservative leader of the Senate, also wants Abbott to demand that lawmakers try again to pass a ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports.

The Texas GOP’s torpedoed bill, known as Senate Bill 7, would have reduced polling hours, empowered poll watchers and scaled back ways to vote. It included a ban on drive-thru voting centers and 24-hour polling places, both of which were used last year around Houston, reflecting how Republicans went after Texas’ largest Democratic stronghold.

But it was new provisions added during final negotiations between the House and the Senate that triggered the Democrats dramatic action. One of the new measures would have made it easier to overturn an election by allowing a judge to void a candidate’s victory if the number of fraudulent votes cast could change the outcome, regardless of whether it was proved that the fraud actually had affected the result. It was kind of provision could allow a favorable judge to side with a candidate who makes broad claims of fraud with little specific evidence — as former President Donald Trump did with virtually no success.

Some Democrats suggested they would allow a vote on the elections legislation, if it more closely resembled the earlier version and included some bipartisan input. Democrats had voted against that as well, but had not staged the protest.

“If we get back on track with that mentality, we might be able to come up with election policy that is less objectionable,” Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said.

There were some signs Republicans might back off some of the new, strict measures. Republican state Rep. Travis Clardy, one of the negotiators on the final version of the Texas bill, told NPR on Tuesday that banning early Sunday morning voting was essentially a typo — that instead of starting voting no earlier than 1 p.m., the bill was supposed to say 11 a.m.

“That’s one of the things I look forward to with fixing the most. Call it a scrivener’s error, whatever you want to,” Clardy told NPR.

But the Senate author of the bill, Republican Bryan Hughes, made no mention of such a mistake over the weekend while defending the new Sunday limits. “Election workers want to go to church, too,” Hughes said.

It the new bill is not acceptable to Democrats — and they were to walk out again — Republicans’ don’t have to stand pat. State troopers could be mobilized to try to forcibly bring lawmakers back to the House, as was the case in 2003, when Texas Democrats fled to Oklahoma and New Mexico to try and block new voting maps.

Whitmire, who was first elected to the Texas Legislature in 1973, spent 36 days holed up in a hotel before breaking ranks with his fellow Democrats and returning home. The decision gave Senate Republicans at the time the quorum needed to get back to work on a redistricting plan that would give the GOP more seats in Congress.

“Of upmost important is, what are you going to do when you get back?” Whitmire said of denying a quorum. “Are things going to be different? Probably not. But it educates the public and lets your core group know how committed you are to principles.”

Texas Democrats’ move has reverberated across the country. President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Democrats and their allies to step up the fight over voting law, which is expected to heat up on Washington later this month when Democrats debate a massive federal rewrite of elections law.

“I urge voting rights groups in this country to begin to redouble their efforts now to register and educate voters. June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill,” he said.

___

Associated Press writer Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.

Paul J. Weber, The Associated Press

Just Posted

A small selection of shoes line a step at the municipal government building in Sylvan Lake, with each pair representing a vicitm of residential schools in Canada. Tracey Greinke placed the first pair of shoes on the steps, hoping more would follow. (Photo by Megan Roth/Black Press news services)
Sylvan Lake woman sets up small memorial for residential school victims

Tracey Grienke placed a pair of moccasins on the steps of town hall, and a few more followed

A section of the eastern slopes south west of Longview, Alta., Wednesday, June 16, 2021. A new report finds big differences in how different governments have responded to Canada’s promise to increase the amount of land it protects. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
A for Quebec, F for Alberta: Study rates Canadian governments on conservation

Report by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in memory of those killed during WWII as he takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 22, 2021, marking the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Putin hails WWII heroes, warns of degrading Europe security

Kremlin anxious to see international recognition of wartime sacrifices and its role in defeating Nazis

FILE - In this May 19, 2021, file photo, mice scurry around stored grain on a farm near Tottenham, Australia. A mouse plague that has ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia has forced the evacuation of a prison while authorities repair gnawed electrical wiring and clear dead and decaying mice from wall cavities and ceilings, Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Australian prison to be evacuated after mice move in

Plagues usually happen when rain follows several years of drought

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell looks at his papers as Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, background left, talks to Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides during a European Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting at the European Council building in Luxembourg, Monday, June 21, 2021. EU foreign ministers were set to approve Monday a new set of sanctions against scores of officials in Belarus and prepare a series of measures aimed at the country’s economy. (Johanna Geron/Pool Photo via AP)
EU, US, UK, Canada join forces to slap sanctions on Belarus

Asset freezes and travel bans also imposed

Black Horse Singers performed for students at Ecole la Prairie on Monday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Students remind Red Deer that every child matters on National Indigenous Day

Heart-shaped messages to decorate trees at Ecole la Prairie through the summer

FILE - Canada’s Cyle Larin (17) scores past Haiti’s Josue Duverger, bottom left, during the second half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Toronto FC’s Zavaleta wastes little time settling in with El Salvador national team

Indiana-born Zavaleta qualifies for El Salvador through his father

Summer McIntosh swims her way to first place in the Women’s 800m Freestyle at the 2020 Olympic Swimming Trials in Toronto, Monday, June 21, 2021. McIntosh, who edged Rio Olympic star Penny Oleksiak in the 200-metre freestyle final a day earlier, picked up where she left off in the women’s 800-metre freestyle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Summer Time: 14-year-old McIntosh wins again at Olympic swim trials

McIntosh will be one of the youngest athletes in Tokyo

This undated photo provided by Walt Disney World shows Disney characters at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Walt Disney World is planning an 18-month celebration in honor of its 50th anniversary, starting in October 2021. Disney announced Tuesday, June 22 that all four parks at the resort will take part in “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” (Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World via AP)
Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts Oct. 1

Favorite Disney characters will be part of a collection of special golden sculptures at all four parks

Columnist Treena Mielke
Family: When rain cancels ball game

The wild roses are out, blooming in roadside ditches, their gentle beauty… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson, center, tries to get position for a shot against New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) during the second period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Stamkos, Vasilevskiy pace Lightning’s 8-0 rout of Islanders

Lightning 8 Islanders 0 (Tampa Bay leads series 3-2) TAMPA, Fla. —… Continue reading

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he’s ‘convinced’ the city will be able to get rid of the mandatory mask bylaw in July. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
‘Made in Calgary’ approach will keep mask requirements past Alberta’s total reopening

Calgary won’t be following provincial recommendations on the mandatory wearing of masks… Continue reading

Most Read