Texas Democrats Meet With D.C. Heavy Hitters, Lead the Growing Federal Momentum on Voting Rights

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Democrats are continuing to lead the fight for federal voting rights protections — and are growing momentum and gaining support from key national voices. Following yesterday’s meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden’s impassioned speech, Texas Democratic lawmakers met Tuesday and Wednesday with federal heavy hitters who are allies in pushing the fight for voting rights forward — including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), Senator Raphael Warnock (GA), Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).

Earlier this week, Texas House and Senate Democrats resisted Gov. Abbott and Texas Republicans’ attempts to silence Texas voters — leaving the state to deny the legislative quorum necessary to pass anti-voter bills. Now, the group of leaders is continuing to galvanize support. Today, Texas House and Senate Democrats held a press conference calling for immediate federal action on voting rights. The following are quotes from the press conference. The full recording is available here, and photos are available here.

Texas Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Carol Alvarado:
“Republicans have broken their promise to our seniors and the disabled by making it harder to vote, and also making it harder for Latinos, African Americans and Asians.

“Yes, the drive-thru voting was new. Yes, 24-hour voting was new. And guess what, it worked. But maybe to some people, it worked too well. And that’s why we’re here today. Ten thousand people in Harris County used drive-thru voting over 50 percent of them for people of color. The drive-thru voting was a success. So we are here joined in solidarity to hopefully move the ball a little bit.”

Rep. Ron Reynolds:
“Thanks to Texan Lyndon Baines Johnson, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law. So we’re here to protect the fundamental right to vote. The freedom to vote is a sacred and fundamental part of our functioning democracy. It is what makes America our home and the state of Texas is so exceptional. Other countries envy America because of this great democracy that we have. Our constituents want their rights protected and that’s exactly what we’re doing here today — protecting the inalienable fundamental right to vote.”

State Sen. Royce West:
“We want to see the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act (passed in Texas). We’re talking about accessibility to vote and 21st Century means to ensure people have access to vote like never before.

“We’re not fleeing. We’re working here today. We’re on the Hill trying to convince our federal delegation and other delegations that they need to pass the Act.”

Rep. Victoria Neave:
“We heard from witness after witness testify — from the Texas NAACP, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and individual after individual about the devastating impact this will have on Latinos, on Mexican Americans, on our African American community, and especially our community of people with disabilities….There are powerful forces in Texas right now trying to roll back our rights to vote. But we know that the power of the people is stronger. We know that our vote has the power to change the trajectory of our nation….

“Nosotros sabemos que los esfuerzos del partido republicano para tratar de derrotar nuestro voto — están tratando de hacer todo lo que pueden porque ellos miraron que los números de los votos latinos eran los números más altos que hemos visto en años. Y nosotros vamos a seguir luchando por nuestra comunidad. Lo que ellos están haciendo es un asalto a nuestra democracia. Los republicanos tienen la intención de quitarles la libertad del voto. Ellos están decididos de quitar ese derecho y sabemos que no se detendrán. Pero nosotros demócratas legislativos no nos rajamos. Pero necesitamos protecciones del gobierno federal para proteger el voto y los derechos de los latinos en Texas.”

State Sen. Jose Menendez:
“Many of us have stories of immigrant parents or grandparents, but few of us get to hear of the time when your father and mother had recently been married, and your father’s painting the house in Mission, Texas, and the Border Patrol rolls up and by the time Mama comes out with the limonada que le traía a papá, ya casi lo — they had him in the back of the car. All because his wallet was inside. The reason I share this story is because as soon as my parents could become naturalized citizens, they never missed an election….As they got older, they needed more help [to go vote]. There’s a reason why MALDEF and the NAACP testified that there is a federal assister law in place today — and the [Republican] bill that’s being proposed breaks federal law….We are here to represent the millions who may have their right to vote be infringed upon….We ask, how many people are you willing to rob of their vote?”

Rep. Vikki Goodwin:
“The rights of voting Texans live on borrowed time under Texas Republicans. We are here to implore Congress to pass sweeping voting rights legislation. We heard from over 400 constituents back in Texas who came to testify about the elections bill….We are doing everything in our power to fight back. We’re not going to allow Abbott to corral and cabin us. We are here to fight.”

Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner:
“Our commitment in the House Democratic Caucus is that we’re going to stay out [of Texas] until the session is over to kill this bill. And we’re going to use the intervening time to shine a harsh national spotlight on the Republicans’ voter suppression efforts, and use that pressure to encourage and urge and implore Congress, and specifically, the U.S. Senate, to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”