15-Hour Filibuster in Texas Senate Fails to Stop Passage of Voting Bill
The drama over proposed voting restrictions in Texas continued Wednesday night into Thursday with a lengthy filibuster in the Texas Senate that ultimately failed to block passage of a bill.
The Associated Press reports that Texas Democratic Senator Carol Alvarado began speaking before the state senate around 6PM Wednesday. Those following the gesture online saw Sen. Alvarado clad in comfortable running shoes, which surely came in handy - she was not allowed to sit, cease speaking, or take bathroom breaks.
Why Was She Filibustering?
Alvarado's filibuster was a symbolic gesture of protest against Senate Bill 1 - the state senate's version of election measures that would tighten rules on mail-in voting, prevent 24-hour voting, expand the rights of partisan poll watchers, and ban drive-through voting.
Texas Democrats say the measures would make it more difficult for workers, minorities and those with disabilities to vote, and that the proposed restrictions are based on false claims of the 2020 presidential election having been "stolen".
Republicans argue that they're protecting election integrity and actually expanding voting hours in some areas, particularly during early voting.
Wait, Didn't All the Democrats Leave Texas?
Nope. 52 out of 67 Democratic members of the Texas House left the state in early July in order to prevent passage of the new voting measures. Some House Dems stayed behind, and only 9 State Senate Democrats left with their House collogues.
The move prompted Governor Greg Abbott to threaten state Democratic lawmakers with arrest. The Texas Tribune report that on Tuesday, August 10, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan signed civil arrest warrants for those Dems still absent. Such warrants wouldn't impose criminal charges or fines, but could force lawmakers to show up to the House and participate in proceedings.
So What Happened With The Filibuster?
Alvarado's 15-hour filibuster ended Thursday morning around 9 AM. Minutes later, the State Senate passed their version of the elections bill with an 18-11 party line vote.
You can see the final moments of the filibuster and hear Alvarado's closing sentiments in the video above.
Governor Abbott has said he will continue to call special sessions to get voting measures passed. Meanwhile, Texas Dems have refused to return and have received some help from judges questioning the legality of the warrants.
It seems certain that voting measures will be passed and signed into law at some point in the near future, but for now the standoff continues.
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