As the Texas legislative session drew to a close on Sunday, Democratic lawmakers staged a walkout to deny a quorum and block the passage of an election integrity bill.
While Democrats cheered the strategy, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) made it clear their victory would be short-lived while also floating a potential punishment for lawmakers who refused to do the job they were elected to do, the Washington Examiner reported.
Democratic walkout to block bill
The bill in question, Senate Bill 7, was hotly debated for months, as Republican proponents argued that the reforms were necessary to protect the integrity of future elections while Democratic critics accused the GOP of being racist and deliberately suppressing the votes of minorities.
What the bill purports to do is place some limits on early voting, impose certain restrictions and ID requirements on mail-in ballots, and generally standardize voting options across the state.
Just hours before the regular legislative session ended Sunday at midnight, Democrats exited the House chamber in a coordinated fashion, denying the Republican-controlled legislature the quorum of members necessary to hold a vote on the measure before time expired.
Special session called for
Abbott said in a statement Sunday night, “I declared Election Integrity and Bail Reform to be must-pass emergency items for this legislative session. It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither will reach my desk.”
“Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas,” he continued. “They will be added to the special session agenda.”
“Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session,” the governor added.
Legislative funding threatened
Taking it a step further Monday, Abbott threatened to withhold the taxpayer-funded pay for legislators and their staffers if the elected representatives didn’t do the job they had been sent to Austin to do — vote on legislation, the Texas Tribune reported.
Referencing Article 10 of the next Fiscal Year’s state budget, which he has yet to sign, Abbott threatened to veto the section that provided funding to the state legislature, writing in a tweet, “No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities.”
The Tribune noted that Article 10 of the budget provides funding for the entirety of the state’s legislative branch and related agencies, as well as the pay for lawmakers and their staffers. Currently, elected legislators in Texas are paid $600 per month plus a $221 per diem for each day that that legislature is in session.
It is unclear when the special legislative session Abbott called for will take place or if he will follow through on his threat to veto funding for the legislature. One thing is crystal clear — he will not abide by the Democratic shenanigans witnessed Sunday night and will do what he can to ensure they do the jobs they were elected to do.