87th LegislatureElections 2020FederalIssuesState HouseState SenateVice President Harris Hosts Select Texas Democrats at White House to Celebrate GOP Election Bill Failure

At least one Democrat on the Texas House Elections Committee expressed disappointment that some of her colleagues were left out.
June 18, 2021
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At the White House on Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris met with several Texas Democrats who caused the failure of Senate Bill (SB) 7, the Republican election reform bill.

But not before a dustup over who got invited.

Prior to the event, Texas House Democrats expressed excitement on social media about Harris’ invitation to Washington, which the vice president extended to Reps. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth), Jessica Gonzalez (D-Dallas), Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Trey Martinez-Fischer (D-San Antonio), Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin), Jarvis Johnson (D-Houston), and Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas), as well as Sens. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), Royce West (D-Dallas), Beverly Powell (D-Burleson), and Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio).

Reps. John Bucy III (D-Austin), Art Fierro (D-El Paso), and Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), who serve with Gonzalez on the House Elections Committee, were not on the list. 

Beckley bewailed the fact that she and the rest of her Democratic colleagues on the committee were not invited.

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“Disappointing that all [four] Democratic members who sat on the Texas House Elections Committee and fought for all versions of voter suppression are not included,” Beckley replied.

Even Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), who chairs the committee, seemed perplexed by the fact that Beckley was left out.

“Why doesn’t the [vice president] want to meet with the [Texas legislature] member [Beckley] who came up with the idea of walking out to break quorum?” Cain wrote on Twitter.

Beckley responded by taking credit for recommending that Democrats break quorum to scuttle SB 7.

“Yes I had suggested it the first time the bill came to the floor. I even pointed out in a caucus meeting that this would get national attention and put pressure on Washington to pass For the People,” Beckley wrote. “Funny how I am now excluded.”

The state representative was referring to H.R. 1 and S. 1, versions of a federal election bill called the For the People Act of 2021 that is designed to make it easier to vote and to prevent state legislatures from passing more stringent voting laws.

On Tuesday, also in Washington, U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) held a press conference with Texas Democrats to celebrate the defeat of SB 7. Texas Congressmen Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) and Marc Veasey (D-TX-33) were in attendance.

Pelosi said she was “inspired” by the walkout and characterized Republican election integrity proposals as an “all-out assault” on the right to vote.

“When we hear the story that they tell, it’s a sad story that others in our country, have a responsibility, take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution just do the opposite and undermine the rights of people to vote,” Pelosi said.

Democrats in the Texas House defeated SB 7 after they walked out of the chamber and broke quorum on the second-to-last day of the regular session, which was the deadline to pass conference committee reports.

As soon as House Democrats broke quorum and defeated SB 7, Gov. Greg Abbott committed to placing the election reform bill on the agenda of one of the special sessions he intends to call.

This is not the first time Texas state lawmakers have gone to the feds with their concerns about SB 7 and the House version of the bill, House Bill (HB) 6. 

In April, Gonzalez, Beckley, Fierro, and Bucy sent a letter to the U.S. attorney general asking the Civil Rights Division to monitor the proceedings of the House Elections Committee due to their fears of “voter disenfranchisement.”

Republicans contend that additional election laws are necessary to protect ballot boxes from illegitimate votes, to protect voters from being exploited by polling workers, and to set up a better process for improprieties to be rectified by the courts, among other arguments.

A breakdown of the specifics of SB 7 can be found here. Abbott has indicated the legislation is destined to return in a special session.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.