WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has announced the legislative agenda for the special session of the Texas Legislature that is scheduled to start Thursday. The session was widely expected after Democrats walked out of the chamber in May, denying Republicans of the quorum they needed to pass their omnibus voter suppression bill, Senate Bill 7. After the bill failed to advance, Abbott tweeted that he was vetoing the portion of the state budget that provided salaries for legislators and their staff in the upcoming year and announced he would call a special session to once again attempt to pass a voter suppression bill. The special session agenda includes a host of Republican priorities, including voter suppression, abortion restrictions, police funding, a ban on transgender students competing in sports and much more.
The options for Democrats to oppose oppose a voter suppression bill again are much more limited this session: if they walk out of the chamber again, the governor’s veto of the budget will stand and legislators and their staff will stop being paid starting in September. Democrats in the House penned a letter to House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) asking that he push back against the governor’s tactic to hold the session hostage to his priorities. “We are meddling with the very core of our democracy and with the most fundamental rights of our constituents,” Democrats wrote. “We cannot deliberate on these issues through a process that is at best a blundering mess and at worst a deceptive, hyperpartisan sham.”