President Joe Biden supports Democratic state lawmakers who fled Texas to delay Republican bills the GOP claims will help secure elections, according to the White House.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with the 50-plus lawmakers this week after they flew to Washington, D.C., White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday. The legislators’ absence blocks consideration of the elections proposal in the 150-member House because not enough of them were present. The Texas Senate will vote on its version Monday.
“He applauds their courage and adds to the urgency for passage of the For the People and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement acts, along with the all-of-government effort we have launched and the movement he’s calling for today to overcome this moment with voter turnout and voter education,” Jean-Pierre said aboard Air Force One.
Jean-Pierre briefed reporters en route to Philadelphia, where Biden spoke Tuesday to elevate the issue of voter access as Republicans around the country work to pass bills they say are aimed at shoring up election integrity. Democrats contend the provisions make it harder for people, particularly minorities, to cast ballots, and minority voters, especially in the black community, have historically identified with the Democratic Party.
The Texas proposals are part of “a concerted attack on our democracy,” Jean-Pierre added. She also parroted Biden’s description of it as “wrong” and “un-American.”
“The most foundational right is the right to vote freely and fairly and have that vote counted. The fact of the matter is that the Texas legislation would make it harder to vote in a state where it is already too hard for many to vote,” she said.
A Democratic lawmaker exodus last spring similarly postponed passage of the Texas bills. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had convened this 30-day special session for legislators to clear the modified measures. Abbott is threatening to arrest members upon their return to Texas, where they will be forced to come back to the statehouse.
The Texas reforms include prohibiting drive-thru and 24-hour early voting, introducing more identification requirements for absentee voting and powers for partisan poll watchers, implementing harsher criminal penalties for rogue election officials, and expanding early voting hours in some counties.
Original Author: Naomi Lim