Updated, July 13 at 5:57 p.m.
With Texas House Democrats in Washington, D.C., Texas House Republicans voted to send law enforcement to find them. However, law enforcement does not have the authority to enforce such a vote because the group of Democrats are not in Texas.
“It’s all theater to express to their conservative base how angry they are, they’re going to call law enforcement out on us,” said Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin. “I am in Washington working my best to serve the voters that elected me. They’re my boss, the governor is not my boss.”
She added that she intends to continue lobbying U.S. senators while in Washington, D.C.
As for Texas U.S. senators, Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, took to the U.S. Senate floor to weigh in on the Democrats walking out.
“As Texans, standing up to a fight is part of who we are even if you know in the end you may not prevail,” Cornyn said. “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.”
Original Post, July 13 at 11:13 a.m.
Members of the Texas Democratic Congressional delegation appeared alongside Texas House Democrats to voice their opposition to legislation intended to restrict voting at a press conference outside of the U.S. Capitol.
Texas House Democrats left the state July 12 in an effort to preemptively break the quorum Texas Republicans need to pass Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3. Those two bills will limit voting hours, tighten voter assistance procedures, bar temporary or drive-thru voting locations and block unsolicited vote by mail applications.
Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said at least 57 Texas House Democrats requested that their voting machines be locked, indicating they have more than the 51 members they need to break quorum.
At the onset of the 87th Texas Legislative Session, Gov. Greg Abbott listed election integrity as a key priority. When Republicans failed to pass marquee voting bills, he again included election integrity as a key priority for the special session that began on July 8.
“I just want to offer that at the outset of this legislative session the process was poisoned,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas. “And it was poisoned by a governor who defunded the legislative branch.”
Rep. Senfornia Thompson, D-Houston, echoed Anchia and said she would not be a “hostage.”
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett hearkened back to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s efforts to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“We need the president and the vice president, and every Democrat in the Senate, working together to preserve American democracy,” Doggett said.
The appearance in Washington, D.C., was an effort to put pressure on the U.S. Congress and President Joe Biden to pass legislation at the federal level aimed at counteracting the Texas voting bills, as well as a flurry of voter restriction bills in states across the country. Those efforts have stalled thus far, as Congressional Republicans have opposed the proposed legislation.
Biden is scheduled to give a speech on voting rights in Philadelphia today.
Ben Thompson contributed to this report.