Texas House democrats remain in D.C. as special session continues

As the clock ticks on the legislative session, actual change is being stalled.

"Democrats refuse to be held hostage," said Katie Naranjo, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party.

Texas House democrats left Austin and took their fight to Washington D.C. earlier this month. The exit was sparked by voting legislation that has divided both parties.

"Every Texan that’s eligible to vote or wants to vote is affected by the legislation," said Naranjo.

However, Brian Ruddle, executive director for the Travis County Republican Party, said Democrats are painting a false picture.

"If you are a voter in the state of Texas nothing is going to change for you," he said. "What it does do is it does make it hard to cheat, it does make it where individual counties can’t just say we’re going to make our own laws."

On Saturday, a group gathered at the Texas State Capitol in protest of the Democrats’ abandonment of the special session. 

"They’ve left our state unprotected and we want them to be vacated from their positions and for people who want to represent us to be here to vote and to care about the people," said Jennifer Fleck.

Hours later, a rally was held in Austin in support of the Texas democrats.

"When you have so many states trying to attack voting rights there’s only one solution and that has to be a federal solution," said Alexander Montalvo.

Republicans are calling the move by Democrats nothing more than a political stunt amidst a misleading message.

"It’s a little more of, I think, a ploy by Democrats to really try to claim bills do something that they don’t," said Ruddle. "This isn’t a policy argument that they’re making, this is a political statement that they're making."

While Democrats believe they were left with no other choice. 

"When you are in a part of a legislative body the whole point is to compromise and to make legislation that’s best for Texans, and in this case, Republicans refused to make any compromises on the voter suppression bills," said Naranjo. "They’re along partisan lines and void of any public support in regard to the testimony that occurred." 

Naranjo said House democrats broke quorum with the goal of gaining the attention of the public and the federal government, as similar voting legislation has stalled in Congress.

"They’re getting a lot of support from their congressional colleagues," said Naranjo. "They’ve been meeting with senators and are feeling that people are being heard."

Naranjo said she expects the democrats to stay in Washington D.C. until August 7 when the special session is set to end. However, Governor Greg Abbott could decide to call another special session.

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