Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives are once again fleeing the state in a second bid to prevent the Republican majorities in the legislature to pass a controversial GOP-sponsored elections bill to strengthen voting access rules.
The Democratic lawmakers aim to fly to Washington, D.C. on Monday, a source with knowledge of the plans confirmed to Fox News, in order to deny the quorum needed in the House to pass the voting measures. Republicans argue the bill would provide greater election security, while Democrats charge it would suppress voter turnout of minorities.
TEXAS-SIZED BATTLE OVER CONTROVERSIAL ELECTION BILLS ENTERS ROUND TWO
Under Texas law, the Democratic lawmakers could face arrest by taking flight.
"Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the Texas Legislature and abandon the Texas State Capitol inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve," said Gov. Greg Abbott in a statement. "As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state.
These include "issues like property tax relief; funding to support Sheriffs and law enforcement in high crime areas; funding for children in foster care; and funding for retired teachers," the statement read.
Texas Democrats scuttled the original bill in late May, at the end of the legislative session, with a walkout that grabbed national attention.
The bill outlined last week by state House Republicans would create new ID requirements for voting by mail, and ban drive-thru and overnight early voting, which were used during the 2020 elections in the Democratic stronghold of Harris County, which includes Houston, the state’s largest city.
But unlike the bill from the regular session, the new proposed legislation would not ban Sunday morning voting, which was heavily criticized for unfairly targeting Black voters who cast ballots through "souls to the polls" efforts coordinated by churches.
While grabbing the spotlight, the elections bill is far from the only thing on the agenda for the special session, which was called by three-term GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and kicked off on Thursday.
The governor last Wednesday outlined what the Republican-controlled legislature will debate during the session – which can last up to 30 days.
Besides the election bill, issues on the docket include: bail overhaul, border security, social media censorship, legislative branch funding, family violence prevention, limiting transgender student access to school sports, abortion-inducing drugs, additional payments for retired Texas teachers, critical race theory, and budgetary issues.
But the battle over the elections bill is taking center stage, as Texas tries to join more than 15 other states where Republicans control the state government and have passed laws tightening voting access rules.
Among those states are the key electoral battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida and Georgia. The push has been fueled in part by former President Donald Trump's repeated unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged" and "stolen."