Democrats in the Texas state legislature have sued Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott after he vetoed two years of funding for state legislators and their staffers, forcing them to face the possibility of going without pay for years, should the altered budget be allowed to go into effect. Abbott vetoed the legislature’s funding after Democrats in the state House abandoned a session where a suppressive set of voting restrictions were under consideration. Democrats’ move eliminated the quorum that the state House requires to do business, and, with the deadline for handling the bill that very night, it was temporarily stopped.
Democrats in the Texas legislature have filed a lawsuit against Greg Abbott, claiming he violated the state constitution when he vetoed funding for the legislature as retribution for Democrats killing a bill that would have instituted voting restrictions. https://t.co/SghikXp1HA
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 26, 2021
A special session of the Texas state legislature is planned for the near future, where the restrictive elections bill is set to again be considered. Forbes notes that a bill re-instituting funding for the legislature also seems poised for potential consideration during those proceedings, and Abbott’s retaliatory veto of the legislative funding that was already passed “is viewed by many as a tactic to force Democrats to show up to the special session,” the publication adds. The new lawsuit targeting Abbott’s legislative funding veto insists that his action was in violation of the separation of governmental powers outlined in the Texas state Constitution.
Abbott has personally confirmed that his veto of the legislature’s funding was in response to Democrats’ successful effort to halt the progress of that suppressive elections bill. As he petulantly put it:
‘In America we don’t pay people for walking off the job. They could have stayed, they could have done all kinds of things, they could have made the point if they disagreed with a piece of legislation, and they could have filibustered or whatever the case may be. But you don’t walk off the job.’
Characterizing what Texas Democrats did as “walk[ing] off the job” is ignorantly reductive. The tactic was available, and they used it. Republican leaders — particularly those in the U.S. Senate — have proven that they’re certainly not hesitant to use just about any available strategies to advance their agenda. In the Senate, filibuster rules allow for a complete stoppage of most legislation, halting progress in its tracks unless (with the chamber’s current party breakdown) at least 10 Republicans back bills under consideration. The impetus for Texas Democrats’ move is certainly compelling — as elsewhere, Texas Republicans are trying to impose suppressive restrictions on voting despite the fact that no systematic election integrity problems have ever been discovered with last year’s electoral process.
Among other provisions, the Texas bill, at least in the form that it was set for consideration by the Texas state House, seeks to ban so-called drive-thru voting, which functions as its name suggests and was used in Harris County last year. Harris County, which includes Houston and which, like other highly populated areas, leans Democratic, was won by Biden last year. Thus, it’s as though the bill is finely tuned to target Democratic voters, making the suppressive consequences even more obvious.