WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn says he does not agree with the action of Texas House Democrats who have broken quorum to stop voter restriction legislation from being passed in a special session.
The Democrats left Austin, Texas, to go to Washington, D.C., to try to persuade the U.S. Senate to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
“All eyes are now on Washington D.C.’s newest asylum seekers, the members of the Texas House of Representatives,” said Cornyn, R-Texas, in a news release.
“Rather than do their jobs in Texas, yesterday House Democrats abandoned both our state and the millions of Texans that they represent.”
Cornyn said the Democrats got on two chartered jets, mask-less with at least one case of lite beer and hopped on jets to come to Washington, D.C.
“They will eventually go home after the cameras leave and after the press loses interest in this political stunt. It’s telling that these Democrats and this House of Representatives chose to race toward TV cameras in Washington rather than present their arguments in the Legislature,” Cornyn said.
“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. We should be making it easier to vote and tougher to cheat, plain and simple.”
Cornyn added: “The Democrat House members, by fleeing town and by coming to Washington in this political stunt, are abdicating their responsibility to deal with these other issues as well. It’s not just about election law reform. It’s about these other issues like bail reform and family violence prevention. They expect us to show up for our jobs and not take part in a highly orchestrated and ethically dubious act of political theater.”
State Rep. R.D. ‘Bobby’ Guerra, D-McAllen, sees things differently to Cornyn. Guerra is one of the Democrats that broke quorum and flew to Washington.
“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was President Lyndon Johnson’s signature achievement. In multiple addresses to Congress, LBJ invoked his experience as a schoolteacher in Cotulla, Texas, and reminded us all, ‘It is wrong, deadly wrong, to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country’,” Guerra said.
“My parents, a former County Judge and a bilingual school principal, were LBJ Democrats. Their dedication to children, from education to advancing the War on Poverty, uplifted the lives of countless families.”
Guerra said he is honoring the legacy of his parents and their core values by joining his colleagues in breaking quorum. He said he was doing it to “advance voting rights for all Texans with my federal counterparts in Washington, D.C., with the realization that what we do right now affects not just us, but generations to come.”
Guerra said the voter restrictions legislation has brought partisan politics into the state Capitol. He said he would rather be working on bipartisan legislation.
“This moment for me, however, is bittersweet. I take pride in approaching public service in a bi-partisan spirit. I’ve seen the good in my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Guerra said.
“I’d rather be meeting in special session to address pressing issues such as health care access, stabilizing our electric grid and protecting ratepayers, and creating jobs, but we weren’t given the opportunity to do so.”
Guerra added: “While the odds may be steep, yesterday I traveled to Congress to seek out other remedies to strengthen what to me is a sacred right of every Texan, the right to vote. God bless.”
Republican Governor Greg Abbott called the special session and made voter restriction legislation a top issue. Abbott went on the Laura Ingraham show on Fox to denounce the actions of Texas House Democrats.
“Isn’t that the most un-Texans thing you have ever heard of? Texans running from a fight? They are quitters. It is like during a football game or a baseball game, taking their equipment while they are well behind and just leaving the field. That is not the way Texans do things. It is crazy,” Abbott told Ingraham.
“But, I tell you what, Laura, this is not over. We have special sessions that last 30 days. And the governor calls them and I will continue calling special session after special session because over time this is going to continue until they step up and vote.”
Abbott said Democrats have got it wrong when they predict the voting legislation will suppress the vote.
“The thesis they are operating under is completely false because what the Texas law does, doesn’t hinder anybody’s ability to vote. In fact, interestingly, what Texas is seeking to do is to add additional hours to vote. Texas has 12 days of early voting and the hours of which will be expanded. And we will ensure that the hours are expanded on Election Day also. And so their entire thesis is completely wrong,” Abbott told Ingraham.
Abbott said that by breaking quorum, the Democrats were also jeopardizing other legislation that he added to the call for the special session.
“By the Democrats fleeing, they are also fleeing what we are trying to achieve by cutting your property taxes, by making sure that we secure the border, by funding very important projects such as law enforcement in communities that have high crime,” Abbott said.
“So, by fleeing the state of Texas they are doing more than just appealing to the president. They are using taxpayer money on this political junket to Washington, D.C., to prevent us from passing laws that make our community stronger.”
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilbert Hinojosa, a native of the Rio Grande Valley, had a different take to Abbott. He praised President Biden and Vice President Harris for continuing to be vocal advocates for voting rights across the country. Harris met with the Texas House Democrats the day after they arrived in Washington, D.C.“You acted in a way that is encouraging other people to take action. You are igniting something that is so important,” Harris told the Texas House Democrats.
Biden, meanwhile, gave a national address calling for further protections for voting rights, reviving calls for Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Biden quoted the late Congressman John Lewis, saying, “Freedom is not a state, it’s an act.”
“I’m deeply grateful for the incredible leadership President Biden is showing through his urgent advocacy for voting rights. Texas Democrats are refusing to back down in the fight for voting rights, and our President and Vice President are stepping forward to fight just as hard alongside us,” said Hinojosa.
“Now, we need every Democrat in Congress, and particularly the U.S. Senate, to rise to the occasion, fight for our communities, and do what has to be done to protect our right to vote. Our democracy is in jeopardy. Our future is on the line.”
Hinojosa said there is no time to lose in passing federal legislation to usurp what states like Texas are doing to voters’ rights.
“Right now, Republicans in Texas and around the country are hellbent on slashing our voting rights — because they know that the only way they can cling to power is by stopping us from voting. These hateful GOP bills are a direct attack on Black and Brown Americans, working people, young voters, and voters with disabilities,” Hinojosa said.
“Alongside a massive, powerful coalition of activists, our Texas Democratic lawmakers are fighting for our communities with everything they’ve got. We are waiting for Congress to do the same.”
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