‘We Have Fought Too Long And Too Hard in This Country’: Texas House Democrats Give Powerful Press Conference in D.C.

AUSTIN, Texas — After Texas House Democrats stood their ground on voting rights, leaving the state yesterday to block Greg Abbott’s continued attacks on voters, the group of courageous legislators gave a press conference Tuesday morning. Their message: an urgent call for federal voting rights protections, before it’s too late.

Back at home, Texas Democrats are continuing to support these brave legislators by advocating loud and clear for the rights of Texans. Today, Texas Democratic Party Co-Executive Director Jamarr Brown will join a massive coalition of activists to take part in a press conference as part of Voting Rights Advocacy Day, at 1:30 PM CT at the South Steps of the Texas Capitol. The press conference will be livestreamed here, and media are invited to RSVP here.

The following are quotes from this morning’s press conference. The full video is available here.

Congressman Marc Veasey: “It’s a shame that today, in 2021, we’re revisiting the past. That’s exactly what we’re doing. When they say ‘that’s never going to happen, that’s not that big a deal’ — it is. They wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t think it would have a negative outcome, particularly for Brown and Black voters in the state of Texas, and in the other states that are doing similar style legislation….I want to be 100% clear. Now — not later, not some time in the future — we need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act & HR 1. It needs to be signed into law, and we also need to pass HR 1. Our citizens can’t wait any longer.”

Congressman Lloyd Doggett: “These courageous colleagues chose not to be accomplices by sitting at their desks and being steamrolled in Austin. It took courage to do what they’re doing….No matter what they do, Greg Abbott and his group of extremists will never change. What can change is right here in this building. What we really need today is a Lyndon B. Johnson moment….We need the President and the Vice President and every Democrat in this Senate working together to preserve American democracy. There has seldom been more at stake.”

House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Chris Turner: “We went into this with eyes wide open. We know exactly what will happen….Our message is very simple. In the intervening time, we’re here to urge the folks in this building right behind us to pass federal voting rights legislation….Our two U.S. Senators wrote the book on publicity stunts. What I’d say to Cornyn is we encourage him to work in a bipartisan manner to pass federal voting rights legislation.”

Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chair Rep. Rafael Anchía: “Nosotros tuvimos que salir para proteger al voto. Un gobernador no se puede convertir en un rey. Él tiene que respetar la rama legislativa. No vamos a participar en este proceso antidemocrático….We’re not doing this for Democrats. We’re not doing this for Republicans. We’re doing this for North & South Texans, Eastern & West Texans. And, we are not going to buckle to the Big Lie in the state of Texas.”

Rep. Rhetta Bowers: “We are here in D.C., our nation’s capital, because we want to protect the civil right to vote for millions of Texans. We were quite literally forced to leave the state of Texas. We also know that we are living on borrowed time in Texas, and we can’t stay here indefinitely to run out the clock to stop Republicans’ anti-voter attacks. That’s why we need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act. Texas Democrats will do everything in our power to fight back. But we need Congress to act now.”

House Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair Rep Toni Rose: “Republicans have failed Texas. Texas Republicans don’t want free and fair elections…Greg Abbott wants the spotlight anywhere but on his failures. He’s rigging the system. Attacking the very foundations of our very democracy and the rights of all Texans is the price of the GOP-led Texas legislature — the price they’re willing to pay. We have real issues in Texas, issues that Greg Abbott won’t touch because it exposes his weaknesses. He has done nothing to protect the elections being free — even after 700 people died due to his negligence during the winter storm. But Democrats? We stand ready at all times to work on real issues.”

House Democratic Caucus Dean Rep. Senfronia Thompson: “I looked at the African American Museum [here in D.C.], and I thought about the struggle that my people fought in this country to get the right to vote. I’m not going to be a hostage while our voters’ rights are being stripped of them. We have fought too long and too hard in this country. It was a Texan — President Lyndon B. Johnson — who in 1965 made sure that we had the right to vote, and that that right was not going to be infringed upon. I’m going to do everything I can do so that my constituents’ right will not be stripped of them.”