Politics

Texas Democrats meet with supportive senators on voting rights, seeking to sustain momentum.

Day 2 of the Texas Democrats’ campaign in Washington to pressure Congress to enact federal voting rights protections was much like the first: packed with meetings with supportive senators, cable television appearances and a news conference.

This time, it was Democratic state senators who stood before cameras on Wednesday inside a conference room at a Washington hotel — the event was moved indoors from outside the Capitol to avoid the midday heat — to reiterate their pledge to remain outside Texas until the state’s special legislative session expires next month.

The contingent of reporters who gathered for the event was far smaller than the press corps that congregated outside the Capitol a day earlier to see Texas state representatives at their first appearance in Washington.

The Democratic state senators echoed their State House colleagues, who have blocked Republicans from doing business by denying a quorum to operate, in arguing that they were in Washington on a working trip, not a vacation, as Republicans have portrayed the trip. The State House Democrats came to Washington in an effort to stop Republicans from enacting new restrictions to voting laws in Texas; the party’s state senators failed to deny a quorum in that chamber because four of their colleagues stayed in Austin.

“We’re not fleeing,” said State Senator Royce West, one of the lawmakers who spoke in Washington. “We’re working here today.”

State Senator Carol Alvarado, the chairwoman of the Texas State Senate Democratic Caucus, said that the group had a “very intimate” meeting on Tuesday afternoon with Vice President Kamala Harris. Other members of the group mentioned that they had met with sympathetic Democratic senators like Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

A delegation of Texas Democrats has a meeting scheduled for Thursday with Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the first session they will have with a senator who has not already committed to passing Democrats’ major federal voting rights bills with a simple majority rather than requiring a 60-vote threshold. One of the bills, the For the People Act, would create sweeping new federal protections for voting, while a narrower bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, would restore key parts of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.

State Representative Chris Turner, the chairman of the Texas House Democratic caucus, said he was trying to organize meetings with Republican senators and other Democratic senators who have not committed to bypassing the 60-vote threshold to enact federal voting rights legislation.

There is no indication any Senate Republicans are sympathetic to the Texans’ arguments. And on Wednesday morning, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, excoriated the state Democrats who fled.

“They’ve just come here to Washington to snap selfies, bask in the limelight and beg Senate Democrats to take over Texas elections,” Mr. McConnell said. “This outrage is completely phony.”

In Texas, Dade Phelan, the speaker of the State House, asked Democrats who left Austin to return their $221 per diem, and the State Senate, which remains in session, passed a series of bills on bail bond reform, property tax cuts and social media regulations.

“The Senate is going to keep passing bills,” said State Senator Bryan Hughes, the chief architect of the Senate elections bill. “All those elements the governor put on the special session are important to folks back home, so we’re going to get them passed.”

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday that she did not have any details on a legislative strategy for passing the Democrats’ federal voting rights bills.

David Montgomery contributed reporting from Austin, Texas.

Most Related Links :
Business News Governmental News Finance News

Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.

[charitable_donation_form campaign_id=57167]

Source link

Back to top button