State Watch

Texas Democrats who fled state to testify at US House subcommittee hearing

Texas House Democrats address reporters at the U.S. Capitol on July 13 after leaving the state to prevent a strong voting bill to be passed in the state house.
Greg Nash

Three of the Texas House Democrats who fled the state earlier this month to block the passage of a sweeping elections reform bill plan to testify at a hearing before a U.S. House subcommittee on the legislation.

Democratic state Reps. Diego Bernal, Nicole Collier and Senfronia Thompson are set to testify Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for a hearing called “Democracy in Danger: The Assault on Voting Rights in Texas.”

The lawmakers wrote in a statement that they are “honored to have been invited … to discuss the Texas GOP’s efforts to make voting more difficult than ever in our state.”

“We came to Washington, D.C. to push Congress to act now to pass sweeping voter protection legislation to defend both Texas and our country from the Trump Republicans’ continued attacks on democracy. We look forward to the opportunity to be directly involved in the federal lawmaking process by making our case at Thursday’s hearing,” they said.

A group of more than 50 Democratic state lawmakers fled Texas for Washington, D.C. on July 12 in an effort to deny Republicans the quorum they needed to convene a special legislative session, where GOP House members planned to bring up a sweeping elections bill.

The trip, which will likely last until Aug. 7, when the session ends, could cost as much as $1.5 million.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has said the lawmakers will be arrested upon their return to the Lone Star State.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the chairman of the subpanel, said it is “honored” to host the lawmakers from “Ground Zero” of the assault on U.S. voting rights.

“America is facing the most sweeping assault on the voting rights of the people since passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965,” Raskin said in a statement, according to The Texas Tribune.

“Texas is now Ground Zero in this battle, and we are honored to have these Texas lawmakers come to testify before our subcommittee about the struggle to defend basic democracy in their state,” he added.

The Texas trip hit a roadblock last week, when five of the lawmakers who fled to Washington tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated.

The Texas Senate, dominated by Republicans, passed sweeping elections legislation earlier this month, one day after the House members had left the state.

The upper chamber approved the bill along party lines.

Among the provisions in the legislation are new limits on early and curbside voting, bans on round-the-clock voting centers and voting facilities in outdoor structures like parking garages, eliminations of straight-ticket voting and limitations on the use of drop boxes.

Tags elections reform Jamie Raskin Republican efforts to restrict voting following the 2020 presidential election Texas Texas House of Representatives Voter suppression voting rights Voting Rights Act

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