Less than two weeks after the historic walkout at the Capitol to stop Senate Bill 7, Texas House Democrats were again on the move, but this time nearly two thousand miles away in Washington, where some members even met with Vice President Kamala Harris.
Members of the Texas House and Senate delegation arrived in Washington Tuesday to discuss their attempts to block voter suppression legislation like SB 7 and the importance of passing the For The People Act, a landmark federal bill that would expand voting rights. The For The People Act, also known as HR1, passed the U.S. House earlier this year.
On Tuesday afternoon, several Texas House members attended a democratic caucus luncheon that reportedly had “five to six standing ovations” according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Two of the biggest impediments to passing the For The People Act in the Senate, Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, were not at the caucus luncheon.
State Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer and Jasmine Crockett visited with members of Manchin’s staff on Tuesday. In an op-ed in The Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin cited a lack of bipartisan support and an unwillingness to break the filibuster as reasons he would not be supporting the For The People Act.
Both Martinez Fischer and Crockett, who had previously expressed their disappointment in Manchin’s position to the Texas Signal, said they felt the meeting was productive. Appearing on MSNBC, Crockett told host Nicolle Wallace that Manchin’s staff didn’t know just how restrictive and harmful SB 7 would be if enacted. “I don’t think they truly understood some of the terrible provisions in here about being able to overturn elections simply because someone alleges fraud but doesn’t necessarily have to prove fraud was a part of it,” said Crockett on air.
For two days Texas House members were all over the U.S. Capitol meeting with several Senators, including Amy Klobuchar. State Rep. Gina Hinojosa posted on Twitter that the work was “ongoing” when it comes to passing federal voting rights legislation.
Members of the Texas delegation also spoke at a press conference alongside Texas U.S. House members and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro stressed the urgency of passing federal legislation to protect voting rights. “This is a now or never moment for American democracy,” said Castro at the press conference. “Either we’re going to protect people’s right to vote, and protect the rule of law and our democracy, or we’re going to concede it to people like Donald Trump.”
On Wednesday, members of the Texas Senate and House had a meeting at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris. The Vice President praised their actions to stop SB 7, calling them “courageous leaders and American patriots.” They delivered a letter signed by every Texas Democratic house and Senate member urging the passage of federal voting rights legislation.
After the meeting several in attendance posted on social media, including Rep. Armando Walle. On Twitter, Walle thanked Harris and her staff for making the time to discuss voting rights and suppression efforts throughout the country. “Today is just the beginning and we’re building a coalition in Texas, but we need that coalition to be strengthened all over the country,” said Walle.
Manchin also made headlines on Wednesday, when he announced he created a list of provisions from The For The People Act that he would support, perhaps in a new version of the bill. Manchin’s proposals include making Election Day a national holiday, automatic voter registration at the DMV, and fifteen days of early voting. Manchin also wants Voter ID laws and still is not budging on ending the filibuster.
The news about Manchin’s change in attitude was welcome for Martinez Fischer who said on Twitter he was “encouraged.” The whirlwind tour through Washington continued for Democrats in the Texas legislature as they also met with Senator Elizabeth Warren.
For now, as a potential special session regarding SB 7 looms, Texas Democrats can only wait to see what happens to federal voting rights legislation in the Senate.
Photo: Jackson Lanier / Wikimedia Commons