AUSTIN, Texas — The top Democratic Party official in Texas on Wednesday blasted Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent decisions to veto a portion of the state budget that funds the Texas Legislature and to convene a special legislative session next month, calling the moves “beyond shameful” as the party squares off with the governor over a slew of voting restrictions.
“Gov. Abbott is out of control and is defunding an entire co-equal branch of the state government because Texas Democrats effectively stopped key pieces of his far-right legislative priorities this session — including his voter suppression bill, SB 7,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa told CNN in a statement on Wednesday.
While Abbott hasn’t detailed the agenda for the July 8 special legislative session, he previously promised to revive the voting restrictions that had been effectively killed by Democrats during the regular legislative session last month. House Democrats in the state had walked out on the final days of the regular legislative session, forcing the expiration of the election bill with a slate of new voting provisions.
The measure would make mail-in voting more difficult by requiring voters to supply more information, prohibiting local elections officials from sending absentee ballot applications to anyone who has not requested one or from working with get-out-the-vote groups that are encouraging Texans to vote by mail.
Additionally, it would prohibit the after-hours and drive-thru options that voting rights advocates said helped Black and Latino voters in the Houston area cast their ballots in the 2020 election. SB 7 would also make it easier to overturn an election, allowing courts to throw out results if enough ballots were cast illegally that it could have made a difference — rather than proving that fraud actually altered the outcome of a race.
“It is beyond shameful that Abbott is holding hostage the salaries of public servants who work for the Texas legislature in an unethical and unconstitutional political game,” Hinojosa added Wednesday.
Republicans in Texas have sought to join Florida, Georgia and other GOP-controlled states that have seized on former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and adopted restrictions that will make it harder for some of their residents to vote.
It’s not clear whether, once the agenda is set, Republicans will enter the special session set on approving SB 7 as it’s currently drafted or will seek to make further changes.