AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will continue to call "special session after special session" in an attempt to force Democrats to return to Texas to consider voting reform legislation, Fox News has learned.
"By leaving the state, Democrats walked out on Texans and critical issues in the special session agenda to provide property tax relief, fund our retired teachers, protect our foster children, and secure our southern border," press secretary for the governor, Renae Eze told Fox News. "If they didn’t want to do their job to debate and vote on the issues, they shouldn’t have run for office."
"Governor Abbott will continue working with the members in Austin and fighting for the future of our state, calling special session after special session to ensure this critical legislation is passed," she added.
Abbott called a special session last month to force lawmakers to vote on a series of items, including "election integrity" legislation.
In response, 57 of the state’s House Democratic lawmakers left Texas to deny Republicans the ability to form a quorum and blocked the passage of the controversial voting bill. Many Democrats may be planning to stay away.
With the special session set to expire on Aug. 6, Democratic lawmakers are already gearing up to extend their D.C. stay.
"Many of us are willing to extend our time in D.C. and away from Austin," state Rep. Ron Reynolds told Fox News, but added it would mean a "great deal of sacrifice" for the Texas lawmakers.
"The biggest concern is many of us have spouses and children," Reynolds said. "We would be away from our families for a longer period of time. We have businesses, or work to earn a living to be able to work as state legislators."
Reynolds, along with U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Ga., was arrested during a Tuesday voting rights rally in front of the Supreme Court.
The Houston-based Democrat said he, along with more than 100 other state lawmakers from around the nation, were protesting to push the U.S. Senate to pass federal voting initiatives like the "For the People Act" and the "John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act."
Voting rights activists and Democrats have argued the federal legislation would bar states from tightening regulations around voting they believe target Black and Brown communities. Texas Republicans maintain the laws would merely secure the elective process.
"My purpose was to use my platform," Reynolds said. "We are running out of time."
U.S. Senate Democrats failed to advance the "For the People Act" earlier this summer, after a 50-50 split vote blocked their calls to open a debate on the legislation that passed in the House in March.
Democrats are now looking to advance the "John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act."
Reynolds said he could not speak on behalf of his fellow Texas lawmakers, but said he believed the "majority" of his party members would remain in the nation's capital until federal voting legislation hit President Joe Biden's desk.
It is unclear at this time how many lawmakers will stay in D.C., but at least 51 state Democrats would need to avoid Austin in order to prevent Texas House lawmakers from attaining a quorum.
State Rep. Shawn Thierry said she would not allow Republicans to form a quorum, while Rep. Carl Sherman said, "I cannot say what tomorrow holds."
"My plans are focused on serving the interests of my constituent's most precious privilege of being able to participate in our democracy," he added.
State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins echoed Reynold’s sentiments and told Fox News that not "under any circumstance" would she consider returning to Texas to establish a quorum.
"My forefathers and mothers died for us to have the opportunity to vote, I cannot participate in voter intimidation and voter criminalization," she said. "We were told in 2020 some of the safest elections occurred across this country, so I will not participate in destroying things that I believe are ok."
"We understand that this is a movement, not just an action. And within this movement, we plan to stay to the end."
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