Texas Voting-Rights Bill Criticized by Biden Fails to Pass Sunday

A Texas bill imposing tough voting restrictions that drew criticism from President Joe Biden over the weekend failed to pass late Sunday night as Democrats left the chambers before the vote.

“A number of members have chosen to disrupt the legislative process by abandoning the legislative chamber before our work was done,” Speaker Dade Phelan said in a statement. “In doing so, these members killed a number of strong, consequential bills,” he said, including those with bipartisan support.

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Texas legislature finalized the draft legislation, which Governor Greg Abbott and other state leaders say will ensure election integrity. The state’s Democratic Party labeled it an attempt at suppression that makes it harder to vote by mail, limits voting hours and adds barriers to voter registration.

“Texans shouldn’t have to pay the consequences of these members’ actions -- or in this case, inaction -- especially at a time when a majority of Texans have exhibited clear and express support for making our elections stronger and more secure,” Phelan added.

Biden earlier called the bill “an assault on democracy” that targets minorities, stepping into the latest partisan battle over changes spearheaded by Republicans after the 2020 presidential election.

“It’s wrong and un-American,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday, drawing comparisons to similar legislation in Georgia and Florida. “In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.”

On Monday, Biden emphasized the importance of voting rights in a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, without mentioning the Texas legislation specifically.

“Democracy thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong,” Biden said in his remarks. “When people have the right to vote, freely and fairly and conveniently. When a free and independent press pursues the truth founded on facts, not propaganda. When the rule of law applies equally and fairly to every citizen.”

The move only put a temporary stop to the bill. Abbott, a Republican, said the outcome Sunday night was “deeply disappointing” and a special session of the legislature will be added.

“Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas,” he said in a statement, adding in a tweet that “they STILL must pass.”

American Airlines Group Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc., both based in Texas, have expressed opposition to the legislature’s efforts to limit voting rights.

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