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Showdown in Texas as GOP tries again on the voting bill

But it is not clear if a walkout would be another time. Members on both sides of the aisle have sharply warned that all options are on the table when it comes to ensuring that electoral legislation becomes – or does not – become law. But in any case, Republicans intend to move quickly into the election law, meaning a future walkout will have to last potentially weeks, not hours, to be successful.

Republicans in both chambers introduced election legislation almost immediately when the special session began Thursday. The bills contained many similar provisions to SB7, the electoral legislation that failed earlier in the year, which would have added several new restrictions on voting in the state.

They want to move fast. State Senate and House committees both scheduled hearings on the election legislation for Saturday morning, and Republican leaders in the state insist it is a top priority after their previous failure. “We are ready to pass on all legislation [GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s] Especially meeting calls that start with # SB1

– Election Security, ”tweeted the lieutenant. Dan Patrick, a Republican who is also the head of state.

Republicans working on the bills, which are similar but not identical across the two chambers, believe the party will be able to avoid the strife that helped condemn their attempts during the regular legislative session.

“I think we have the acquisition of Republicans in both chambers,” said GOP State Representative Jacey Jetton, who sits on the House committee that oversees the election proposal.

He noted that due to the negotiations in the regular session, any further talks this time could be accelerated. Republicans also hope that a conference committee where the two bills merge and other procedural obstacles will not slow them down this time.

“There is a lot of guilt to go around why this was not completed last session. But I think one of the factors that was as much to blame as anything was the ticking of the clock, ”said State Representative Travis Clardy, another Republican on the elected committee. “It’s like watching a football match and the team moves the ball, but the clock goes to zero before you get it in the end zone. It happens in politics. And then maybe we need to brush up on our clock control capabilities. ”

“What is different here is procedural, we are moving forward tomorrow … our third day in a 30-day special session. So we have more than enough time to move it through, ”Clardy continued.

Both men said the bill, depending on whether a committee vote is being held this weekend, could see State House floor as soon as next week.

The Senate side of the new bill retained provisions banning drive-thru and 24-hour early voting – two practices governed by the increasingly democratic, Houston-based Harris County during the pandemic – banning election officials from widely distributing absenteeism absenteeism applications add new ID requirements to request a mail poll. It also upholds proposals to add a whole range of criminal and civil sanctions against election officials.

Some of the most controversial provisions in SB7 did not return, at least in the first draft of the bill, such as effectively banning Souls for the voting events – which are voters popular in black churches – and setting a lower standard of proof to overthrow a choice due to fraud charges. Republicans have since chalked them up to draft errors in a time crunch, but the bill’s Senate author defended Sunday’s voting restrictions on the floor at the time.

Democrats in Austin promise to oppose the election law throughout the session. They also hope that staging another fight will push congressional Democrats to move on to the For the People Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. Both bills face a bleak future in Washington. Democrats do not have 50 votes in the Senate on the For the People Act, with Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) calling for a smaller package, and both bills face Republican-led filibusters.

“We are fighting with all our might here in Texas. We are holding the line, “said Democratic State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, who helped lead the initial walkout and was also part of the delegation that visited Washington. “But we need our federal men and women, the U.S. Senate, to step up.”

Democrats from Texas are openly discussing the possibility of another walkout or some sort of disruption to try to stop the election proposals in that particular session and drum up attention.

“All of these options are on the table,” Martinez Fischer said. “The first walkout in May was not an exercise in vanity.” When asked if the potential for a longer walkout compared to May changed anything, he replied: “It does not at all. Just an extra pair of socks. The Democratic representative is more united than ever, and our determination is pretty strong. ”

But Republicans are very aware of the threats this time. “My Democratic colleagues have been quoted as saying that all options are on the table,” State House President Dade Phelan told KXAN in an interview. “With respect, all possibilities are also on the table for myself.” Phelan’s office did not respond to a question from POLITICO asking to elaborate on what those options were, but state house rules allow the speaker to order the doors locked and sergeant-at-arms to hunt down missing members, something he did not pursue when Democrats left. out during the regular session.

But angry Democrats are unfortunate. “I do not care if Republicans know I want to break the quorum,” Johnson said. “How are they going to stop me?”

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