Harris: Texas Democrats displayed 'courage' by leaving state to block GOP voting bill

Chelsey Cox
  • VP Kamala Harris said Texas Democrats are fighting for the right to vote.
  • Democrats in the TX State Legislature fled to Washington, D.C. ahead of votes on GOP election bills.

Democratic lawmakers in Texas received high praise from Vice President Kamala Harris Monday, after they left the state to block a GOP voting bill that would have remade elections in the Lone Star state.

Harris, who was attending a press conference at a vaccination event in Detroit, Michigan, said members of the Texas Legislature displayed "extraordinary courage and commitment" by leaving the state Monday. The lawmakers risked arrest by traveling to Washington, D.C. to avoid filling a quorum needed to vote on bills introduced in the Republican-led legislature, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

"I applaud them standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote unencumbered," the vice president said. "They are leaders who are marching in the path that so many others before did when they fought — and many died — for our right to vote," she added.

The legislators fled the state on two chartered flights ahead of the Tuesday special session to vote on Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3, which were passed by House and Senate committees Sunday. Both bills would ban drive-thru, 24-hour and late night voting, among other sweeping changes. 

"Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote," state Democratic leaders said in a joint statement Monday.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called the 30-day special session after Democrats walked out of a debate on Senate Bill 7 in May. The House was forced to adjourn afterward.

More:Harris steps into high-wire act on voting rights as pressure builds on election bills

More:Texas Democrats leave state to block GOP voting bill in special session

Harris met with a number of Texas Democratic leaders at the White House in June, shortly after members traveled to Washington after walking out of the regular session.

The legislators traveled out of Texas' jurisdiction to Washington to avoid arrest for quorum-breaking, pending a majority-vote in the Legislature.  But they also hope to convince Congress to pass federal legislation protecting Texans and the rest of the country from "Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy," according to the Statesman.

Abbott condemned the Democrats' actions, saying it "inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve." 

"As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state," Abbott said. Issues concerning border security, critical race theory, abortion regulations and alleged censorship of conservatives by social media companies were also on the agenda for the special session.

Harris has been tapped to lead the Biden administration’s efforts to protect voting rights.  

Reach Chelsey Cox on Twitter @therealco.