‘The fight continues’: Texas Democrats speak to end of special session

by | Aug 6, 2021 | Politics, Texas Legislature

Texas House Democrats Held a press conference on Friday, the last day of the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott last month.

Standing with the caucus outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., House Democratic Chair Chris Turner said the party took bold action 25 days ago. 

“We left the state of Texas to deny Texas Republicans the quorum they needed to pass the regressive anti-voter legislation, the bill that’s entirely driven by Trump’s big lie,” Turner said. 

“This is a victory for Texas voters, but we understand the fight continues,” he said. 

Turner said he would not telegraph publicly what comes next for the party.

According to the House Democratic Campaign Committee, Texas Democrats raised $202,000 in donations from contributors supporting their efforts in Washington.

The second special session, set to begin on Saturday, will once again see Texas Republicans attempt to pass legislation to make it more difficult to access the ballot box.

“If we have to come back here, I’m not saying we’re leaving, but if we have to come back here, we’re willing to fight,” said Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston.

Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chairman Rep. Rafael Anchía said if Democrats return to Austin, they would work on a bipartisan solution with Republicans, unlike during the regular session when amendments and proposals from Democrats were ignored. 

“When we go back, whenever that is, and we have to engage on this bill again, we want to make sure that a bipartisan bill comes out, something that strengthens the right to vote, something that protects the freedom to vote for millions of Texans,” Anchía said. 

“We will not be fooled by the wolf in sheep clothing for this special session,” said Texas Legislative Black Caucus Chair Nicole Collier. We hope Texans see the actions of our governor for what they are, they’re just political grandstanding to appease a few while disenfranchising thousands.”

“As long as the rights of Black Texans are under siege, we will press on,” Collier said.

Texas Democrats were joined by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), who thanked the delegates for being freedom fighters and using their voice to fight for federal voting rights legislation in Washington.

“That voice has continued to reverberate,” Merkley said. 

Merkley said he and his colleagues have been meeting and working to lay out the For the People Act, a bill that would address gerrymandering and dark money in politics. While passed in the U.S. House, that legislation has been stalled in the Senate along with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — another bill Texas Democrats have tried to get movement on. 

Merkley said he anticipates Democrats will attempt to move the legislation on the floor before the Senate breaks for recess. Politico reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is telling lawmakers they should expect votes on election reform legislation this weekend. 

“If we come back and we don’t have Republicans standing with us … then we will find a way, we must find a way for the majority to stand up for this right and pass the laws,” Merkley said. 

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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