Members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus held a press conference on Monday to reflect on the legislative session and missed opportunities from Republican leaders in Austin.
“We should have been dealing with the effects of a global pandemic that left 50,000 Texans dead, or we should have been dealing with the aftermath of the devastating winter storm,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner.
“This session was defined by extremism, by needless legislation that panders to the far right of the Republican party,” Turner said, citing legislation on permitless carry, abortion, and voter suppression.
On Sunday night, Democrats staged a walkout and broke quorum to prevent a vote on Senate Bill 7, a monstrous 67-page bill that would have restricted polling places and allowed elections to be overturned.
It was just one of the bills this session that Democrats managed to run the clock out on, the other notable example being Senate Bill 29, a bill that would prohibit trans youth from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
Despite other well-timed obstructions and dozens of parliamentary maneuvers by Democrats, two major Republican items did make it through; Senate Bill 8, a bill now signed into law by the governor that would ban abortion as early as six weeks, and HB 1927, a permitless carry handgun bill awaiting his signature.
“We were able to get some leverage but we were not able, with the numbers that we have, to keep this legislation that’s anti-woman, anti-choice from going forward,” said Texas House Women’s Health Caucus Chair Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin).
“There was so much going on this session, it was a continual effort on our part to try to push back on some of the most egregious legislation that I’ve ever seen in this Capitol,” Howard said.
Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) said another session had gone by with nothing to show for in terms of gun safety.
“The Republicans did the opposite,” said Rep. Gene Wu referring to the permitless carry bill.
Wu said Republicans failed to provide change on healthcare, and couldn’t even agree to a simple resolution he introduced condemning racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“The public demands action and the legislature provides a show,” Wu said.
Gov. Greg Abbott has said an upcoming special session will see the stallee Republican items pass. On Monday, and in response to the Dem walkout, Abbott announced he would not fund the Texas Legislature.
“No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” the governor said in a tweet.
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call