June 19, 2021

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Texas governor vows to defund state legislature after Democrats blocked voting restrictions bill – CBS News

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, threatened to veto funding for the state legislature Monday after Democrats blocked a controversial voting restrictions bill brought by the GOP. Abbott had said he would sign the bill into law, but state House Democrats prevented it from passing by walking out late Sunday night and denying the chamber a quorum ahead of a midnight deadline.

The state constitution allows Abbott to veto certain items in bills, giving him the power to remove the funding for the legislature in the state budget.

“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. Stay tuned,” Abbott tweeted on Monday.

Defunding the legislature unlikely to have that much of an effect on state lawmakers, who earn only $7,200 per year when not in session and $38,140 when in session, meaning that most legislators hold outside employment when not in session. However, it will affect legislative staff, who are paid through the legislative branch.

“Punishing working class office staff, maintenance, and other support services because he didn’t get every single one of his demands is very on-brand for Texas Republicans,” Democratic state Representative Gene Wu said on Twitter in response to Abbott’s announcement.

Abbott also announced Monday in a separate statement that he would call a special session of the legislature to address the bill, along with other issues.

“Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas, which is why these items, along with other priority items, will be added to the special session agenda,” Abbott said.

Senate Bill 7, the measure blocked by Democrats, includes several controversial provisions that critics say would disproportionately affect poor and minority voters. It also specifically targets voting practices employed this past year in Harris County, the state’s largest county, by banning drive-through voting and 24-hour voting. Those practices were used by 140,000 voters in 2020.

S.B. 7 makes it a state jail felony for local officials to attempt to send mail-in ballot applications to voters who did not request them, a practice Harris County tried to do in 2020. The bill also limits early voting and implements more restrictions on absentee voting, including adding more identification requirements for those who wish to vote-by-mail. 

President Biden condemned the bill in a statement on Saturday, calling it “part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year—and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.”

“It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote,” Mr. Biden said. 

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