Vice President Kamala Harris met with Texas House Democrats in Washington D.C. on Tuesday and called their special session walk out a courageous and patriotic act.
The Texas legislators left Austin Monday to break quorum and prevent the Texas House from moving forward on a controversial election bill.
Harris said the action taken by the Texas Democrats was courageous and patriotic and one that is done in defense of the right to vote for all Americans.
"I know what you have done comes with great sacrifice, both personal and political, and you are doing this in support and defense of some of our nation's highest ideals," Harris said. "Defending the right of the American people to vote is as American as apple pie."
The vice president compared the actions taken by the Texas Democrats to protect the voting rights of Texans to key moments in the suffrage movement throughout American history.
Harris said Americans need options when it comes to casting a ballot and she praised the Texas Democrats for taking on the fight.
"This is not an issue that is about Democrats or Republicans. This is about Americans and how Americans are experiencing this issue," Harris said. "And I have in mind that person who is working two or three jobs and needs to have the ability to early vote. I'm thinking about that single parent who has his or her kids in the backseat and needs to be able to have a drive-through or a dropbox to vote. I'm thinking about the American with a disability who needs to have the option of voting by mail."
"This is what we're talking about and you all know that and you are fighters for exactly this point," Harris said, "and so I'm here to thank you and have a conversation with you."
Following her public comments to the Texas House Democrats, the vice president dismissed the press met behind closed doors with the legislators. It's not known what was discussed in the private meeting.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) had a different take on the walkout, calling it an "embarrassing dereliction of their duty and a shameful political stunt."
"They can't win so they're doing the equivalent of, 'I'll take my ball and go home,' or in this case, 'I'm simply running away,'" Cornyn said. "But as Texans, standing up to a fight is part of who we are even if you know in the end you may not prevail. But instead, they turned their backs, hopped on a private jet, and ran from this fight."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said during an interview with FOX News on Monday night that the absent Texas House Democrats would be arrested when they return to the state and compelled to return to work at the state Capitol.
Defending the voter bill, Abbott said the premise the Democrats are operating under is false and that the Texas bill doesn't hinder anyone's ability to vote and instead adds additional hours that polls would be open. Abbott said during the television interview the hours for voting will be expanded during both early voting and on election day.
Democrats say the Republican bill includes outlawing 24-hour polling places, banning ballot drop boxes, and empowering partisan poll watchers.
Earlier Tuesday, President Joe Biden delivered a long-anticipated speech on voting rights and referred to them as a "test of our time." The president's full speech can be seen below.
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