Senate Bill (SB) 7, authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), was approved by the Senate in a party-line vote and sent to the lower chamber early Thursday morning.
While Democrats gave their input on the bill and helped modify it with a handful of amendments, but were ultimately unified in opposing the bill for its final passage.
With pressure from some political figures, such as former presidential candidate Julián Castro, American Airlines released a statement condemning the bill.
“Earlier this morning, the Texas State Senate passed legislation with provisions that limit voting access. To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it,” they wrote in a press release. “As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote.”
The Fortune 500 company said that they “value the democratic process and believe every eligible American should be allowed to exercise their right to vote, no matter which political party or candidate they support.”
While SB 7 would increase some election regulations, such as codifying a prohibition on drive-through voting, it does not contain any provisions that would prevent eligible voters from exercising the right to vote.
“We acknowledge how difficult this is for many who have fought to secure and exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said the company. “Any legislation dealing with how elections are conducted must ensure ballot integrity and security while making it easier to vote, not harder.”
“At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society – not create them,” they concluded.
The CEO of American Airlines, Doug Parker, has backed Democratic candidates in the past, including Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
But some of the most recent federal donations from the American Airlines PAC went to Republican candidates — notably Georgia U.S. Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
The PAC has also contributed to a large swathe of Texas members of Congress from both parties.
After the press release, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick responded with a statement of his own, blasting the company for its position.
“I am stunned that American Airlines would put out a statement saying ‘we are strongly opposed to this bill’ [Senate Bill 7] just minutes after their government relations representative called my office and admitted that neither he nor the American Airlines CEO had actually read the legislation,” said Patrick.
“We heard these same outcries claiming voter suppression in 2011 when Texas passed the photo voter ID bill. In fact, just the opposite occurred,” he continued. “Voter turnout in Texas soared from 7,993,851 in 2012 to 11,144,040 in 2020, a 39 percent increase. Gubernatorial election voter turnout has increased by 76 percent since photo voter ID was passed.”
American Airlines is not the first company to wade in on the debate about the Republican push across the country to tighten election security laws.
Their statement comes on the heels of a similar debate playing out in Georgia, where Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola have taken essentially the same position.
In Georgia, state lawmakers in the lower chamber passed legislation targeting the giant airline company after their opposition to the election bill, but it was reportedly stalled in Georgia’s Senate.
Since the legislative session in Texas has passed the deadline to file legislation, it is highly improbable any new bills could be filed targeting American Airlines, but there is still a possibility the company could see some pushback in the form of amendments to current bills or the state budget that has yet to be debated on the House and Senate floors.
“Did [American Airlines] even read the bill? They didn’t note a single part of the legislation they disagreed with,” tweeted Hughes. “We have a simple goal — make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat.”
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.