In May, Texas Democrats were able to kill a GOP attempt to suppress voting rights by staging a last-minute walkout of the House, breaking quorum and ultimately killing the bill.
Their actions gained national attention, especially from the White House, where 16 lawmakers were invited for a meeting with VP Harris.
The meeting, which took place this Wednesday, had the objective of further discussing federal oversight of Texan elections.
“We know we have a great challenge in front of us and therefore a fight, which is to fight for every American’s right,” said Harris during the meeting.
The vice president, who currently leads President Joe Biden’s efforts on ensuring voting rights, listened as the Texan democrats pushed for federal bills aimed to expand voting protection, as Governor Greg Abbott intends to pass voting restriction during his upcoming scheduled special session, a Republican priority throughout the Legislature.
“The many Democratic legislators here today in Washington, D.C. are the latest in a long line of Texans who have come to our nation’s capital to fight for election access and equality and to ask for federal oversight in order to protect the right to vote,” wrote Rep. Senfronia Thompson on a statement on behalf of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.
“Two weeks ago, in our state Capitol, Texas House and Senate Democrats stood united to stop a harmful voter suppression measure from becoming law. We’ve done our part. Now, we need Congress to do theirs.” the statement read.
During the meeting, the vice president stated the need to restore election oversight from the federal government, recalling the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling to nullify the lynchpin of the landmark Voting Rights Act that kept states like Texas under “preclearance” of its voting laws to safeguard the rights of voters of color.
“We have seen exactly what we feared when that case came down in 2013. Because that case was an opening of a door to allow states to do what otherwise we have protected against, which is states putting in place laws that are designed, in many cases quite intentionally, to make it difficult for people to vote,” Harris said.
The federal For the People Act would make states like Texas more flexible in terms of early voting requirements and expand state law protection on voting rights, such as implementing automatic and same-day voter registration.
According to the Texas Tribune, while the For the People Act has passed the House, it is short Democratic votes in the U.S. Senate where both pieces of legislation face a procedural hurdle known as the filibuster, which sets a 60-vote threshold to bring the legislation up for a vote.