Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday called for a second special session of the state legislature to begin this weekend, after Democratic lawmakers fled the state to block a restrictive voting bill.
In the Republican governor’s proclamation, which includes “election integrity” on the agenda, he says the special session will begin at noon on Saturday—twelve hours after the first special session ends.
Texas state House Democrats effectively stalled any action during the initial special session when they broke quorum to block a voting bill that would add new restrictions by flying to Washington, DC. More than 50 Democrats have remained out of the state since July 12. The first special session ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday.
In addition to “election integrity” and “bail reform,” Abbot’s 17-item agenda for the second session also includes items meant to prohibit mask mandates in schools, tighten enforcement at the US border and prevent students from playing on sports teams of a different sex than they were assigned at birth.
“The Texas Legislature achieved a great deal during the 87th Legislative Session, and they have a responsibility to finish the work that was started,” Abbott said in a statement Thursday.
“I will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve. Passing these Special Session agenda items will chart a course towards a stronger and brighter future for the Lone Star State,” Abbott said.
Republicans in Texas have sought to join Florida, Georgia and other GOP-controlled states that have seized on former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and adopted new restrictions that will make it harder for some of their residents to vote.
Abbott’s call for a second session comes as Texas Democrats remain in Washington, focused on pressuring President Joe Biden and Democratic members of Congress on passing federal voting rights legislation. The Texas lawmakers have held a number of meetings with national Democrats, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who is a key vote. Federal voting rights legislation, Democratic state legislators and voting rights activists argue, would help secure the right to vote for all Americans in the wake of the new restrictive bills.
This week, Texas Democrats were joined by more than 100 state legislators from across the country as part of a planned “week of action” on voting rights.
The Texas Democrats have for months been strategic in their actions against the restrictive voting bill.
In May, just before the end of the year’s legislative session, the Democratic legislators walked off the state House floor, leaving Texas Republicans without the quorum they needed to approve the voting legislation in the final hours before a midnight deadline.
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