After temporarily derailing Senate Bill 7, a Republican priority bill that would toughen the state’s already stringent voting rules, Democrats are intensifying demands for Congress to pass sweeping voting rights legislation.
Over the weekend, Texas Democrats staged a walkout in order to prevent a vote on the legislation before a fatal deadline after the Texas Senate muscled the bill through in the early hours of Sunday morning on Memorial Day weekend. While their last-ditch effort was applauded by Democrats across the nation, responses from Republican leaders in the state suggest it may only yield temporary results.
“Election integrity & bail reform were must-pass emergency items,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday. “I expect legislators to work out their differences before special session.”
President Joe Biden called the Texas legislation an “assault on democracy” and urged Democrats to pass the “For the People Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act” to protect voting access and roll back discriminatory moves against minority voters.
While the Democratic-controlled House passed S.1 “For the People Act” earlier this year, the legislation will likely encounter obstacles in the Senate where it faces resistance from Republicans, as well as moderate Democrats, who oppose abandoning the filibuster, which would lower the vote threshold needed for passage and allow it to pass with 51 votes instead of 60.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed hope that the bill would attract bipartisanship, but has promised “big bold action.”
We cannot fail on key things to our democracy like S1 and everything is on the table and we’re going to continue to discuss it as we move forward.
“Everything is on the table. We hope we can get bipartisan support, so far we have not seen any glimmers on S1, and if we don’t, everything is going to be on the table,” Schumer said at a same press conference.
Texas Democratic Rep. Colin Allred said on Tuesday that even if the Senate version takes a different path from the House bill, it must advance in light of efforts to restrict voting access nationwide.
“To me, HR 1 doesn’t have to pass the way that it did in the House, but it can get through the Senate in some other form,” Allred stated. “But it has to get there. We can’t say that Senate rules are more important than our democracy.”