Texas governor to veto state legislature funding after Democrats walk out
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday said he will veto funding for the state legislature, after Democrats staged a walkout the day before to prevent the passage of a sweeping elections bill.
Texas Democrats walked off the state House floor late Sunday night to block the passage of legislation that would add new obstacles for voting in future elections, and limit the availability of certain forms of voting that are largely used by low income individuals and people with disabilities.
Democrats slowly left the floor as the night progressed until 10:30 p.m., when the remaining members exited the chamber.
The walkout left the state House without enough members present to reach a quorum, preventing Republicans from passing the legislation before the midnight deadline.
The move came after house of debate and procedural objections to Senate Bill 7, which passed the state Senate early Sunday morning and looked to be sent to Abbott’s desk for signature.
Abbott, in a tweet on Monday, announced his intention to veto funding for the legislature.
“I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned,” he wrote.
I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature.
Article 10 funds the legislative branch.
No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 31, 2021
In a statement published the same day, Abbott said it was “deeply disappointing and concerning” that the election bill did not reach his desk.
He said he would add the legislation to the state’s special session agenda, and that he expects legislators to have “worked out their differences” before returning to the Capitol.
“I expect legislators to have worked out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol so that they can hit the ground running to pass legislation related to these emergency items and other priority legislation. During the special session, we will continue to advance policies that put the people of Texas first,” Abbott wrote.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Sunday marked only the fourth time Texas lawmakers have broken quorum to protest a bill’s passage.
Democratic Texas state Rep. Gene Wu denounced Abbott’s plan to veto legislature funding, calling the move “petty and tone-deaf even for Texas.”
I don’t give a shit about my $600 a month.
But there are thousands of workers here with families to support.
This is petty and tone-deaf even for Texas.
— Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) May 31, 2021
The bill, if passed by the state Senate and ultimately signed by Abbott, would ban drive-thru voting and impose state felony penalties on public officials who offer mail-in voting applications to voters who do not request them.
It would also prohibit 24-hour voting, which was used by more than 100,000 voters in the 2020 election in Harris County, where President Biden won with about 56 percent of the vote.
Additionally, the legislation would allow courts to overturn elections if “the number of votes illegally cast in the election is equal to or greater than the number of votes necessary to change the outcome of an election,” instead of having to confirm evidence of election fraud.
The Texas voting bill follows a trend of GOP-dominated legislatures considering sweeping election reforms that critics say would restrict citizens’ access to vote.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in March signed legislation that limits the use of ballot drop boxes and establishes photo ID requirements for absentee voting, among other restrictions.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed similar legislation earlier this month, which will limit access to ballot drop boxes, require voters who want to cast absentee ballots to submit new requests for them every election cycle instead of every four years, and prohibit anyone other than election workers from giving out food or water to people waiting in line within 150 feet of a polling place.
Updated at 3:13 p.m.