The Texas legislature adjourned its 87th session Monday, just hours after House Democrats walked out of the chamber to block the passage of a GOP voting bill.
A veteran Dallas lawmaker did not hold back when he described the session from start to finish.
“It is the worst I have ever participated in,” Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) said.
Lone Star Politics
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West pointed to Senate Bill 7, the voting bill at the center of the House walkout, which he said was divisive and suppressive. Supporters of the bill, including author Sen. Bryan Hughes, (R-Mineola) said the bill was about securing elections.
“I got the question from a number of my Democratic friends, 'Is there evidence of widespread voter fraud?' And my question in response was always, 'How much fraud is OK,'" Hughes said.
The bill would give more latitude to poll watchers, limit early voting hours and eliminate drive-thru voting. The bill passed the Senate, but when Democrats walked out, it killed the bill's chances of getting through the House -- in this session.
“Our plan was to fight like hell until the finish and either talk that bill down or use really an extraordinary measure which was to frustrate quorum and kill it that way,” Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) said.
That means lawmakers did not have the necessary members present to vote.
“Democrat members of the Texas House abandoned their constituents and betrayed the state of Texas. They vacated the House floor before our important work was done,” Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said there would be a special session that would include the voting bill.
Republicans have the majority in both the House and the Senate -- so they have the advantage -- but both sides vowed to keep fighting.
“We are going to do it again. Issues are clear and we are going to get this done,” he said
The bill could end up in the courts if it is passed, House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) said.
Abbott tweeted Monday he would veto the part of the budget that funds the legislative branch, citing the walkout as lawmakers abandoning their responsibilities.
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