Texas GOP advances voting restrictions as hundreds push back

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Republicans advanced bills Sunday that would make voting harder in a state that already has some of the nation’s toughest restrictions after hundreds spoke against the proposals — with some waiting to speak for almost 24 hours.

Republicans made clear they intended to advance a new election bill — which would prohibit 24-hour polling places, ban drop boxes and stop drive-thru voting — this weekend, with a first major vote on the proposals expected this week. That timeline is pushing some Democratic lawmakers toward calling for a second walkout to again stop the restrictions from moving forward like they did in May when they broke quorum.

Texas is among several states with GOP-controlled statehouses where Republicans have rushed to enact strict voting laws in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. A second walkout by Texas Democrats — which some are describing as their best, if not only option — would mark a high-stakes escalation of their efforts to deny Republicans a major priority, and in turn, put more pressure on President Biden to act on voting at the federal level.

For weeks, Democratic leaders in the Texas House have said they are not ruling out another revolt, but have also expressed hope of weakening the bill during the 30-day special session.

Democratic state Rep. Jarvis Johnson, however, believes a large number of his colleagues are ready to deny Republicans a quorum for a second time, though most continue speaking cautiously.

“You may know my next move, but you can’t stop it. You never knew when Mike Tyson was going to throw the uppercut, but you knew he was going to throw it,” he said.

Another walkout may merely buy more time: Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott could keep calling more 30-day special sessions until voting measures are passed.

Paychecks for nearly 2,000 Capitol staffers could also be on the line, because Abbott vetoed funding for the legislative branch following Democrats’ late-night walkout.

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