Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he would withhold pay from Texas lawmakers by vetoing the section of the state budget that funds their paychecks.
His announcement comes just hours after Texas Democrats walked out of the House, breaking quorum, and blocking the possibility of a vote before a midnight deadline. “I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” Abbott tweeted Monday afternoon. “Stay tuned.”
The Democratic walk-out was a last-ditch effort to block the passage of a controversial, restrictive voting law that would make it much harder for some Texans to vote. The elections bill, which has already passed the Texas Senate, would make it harder to vote absentee, ban drive-through and 24-hour voting, pump up punishments for election official errors or offenses, and grant more power to poll watchers.
“Democrats in the House and Senate in Texas have been working all session long to kill these Republican vote suppression measures. And Senate Bill 7 was the worst of the worst,” Texas House Minority Leader Chris Turner, a Democrat, told CNN on Monday. “And so we were determined to kill this bill in any way we could.”
Turner was instrumental in leading enough Democrats out of the House to break quorum. “Any bills that don’t pass by midnight effectively die,” he explained.
For the moment, the walk-out has been successful in blocking the vote, which could not take place before the deadline. Abbott called this “deeply disappointing.” However, the Governor said he will call a special session to force a vote on the bill, though he has not yet released a specific timeline.
Article 10, which Abbott has threatened to veto, does fund lawmakers’ and the paychecks their staffs. It also funds other legislative agencies that serve the public.
Democratic Texas state Rep. Donna Howard of Austin tweeted that vetoing this funding provision “would eliminate the branch of government that represents the people and basically create a monarchy.”
Just before the state senate passed the bill on Saturday, President Joe Biden made a statement condemning the legislation, as well as similar measures that have recently passed in both Florida and Georgia.
“Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote. It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year—and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans,” the president said in a Saturday statement.
“It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.”
Newsweek has reached out to House Minority Leader Turner for comment.