AUSTIN, Texas — In a last-ditch attempt to block a sweeping GOP voting bill, all Democrats walked off the House floor Sunday night, trying to prevent a vote on the legislation before the deadline.
Debate on Senate Bill 7 had extended over several hours as the Texas House neared a midnight cutoff to give final approval to legislation. Democrats had appeared to be trickling off the floor throughout the night, a number of their desks appearing empty, missing the keys that unlock the voting devices attached to their desks.
Editor's Note: The video above is from Sunday night at 10 p.m., before House Democrats walked out.
The Republican priority bill is an expansive piece of legislation that would alter nearly the entire voting process, create new limitations to early voting hours, ratchet up voting-by-mail restrictions and curb local voting options, like drive-thru voting.
During an earlier vote to adopt a resolution allowing last-minute additions to the bill, just 35 of 67 Democrats appeared to cast a vote. Around 10:30 p.m., the remaining Democrats were seen walking out of the chamber.
Their absence left the House without enough members to reach a quorum — which requires two-thirds of the 150 House members to be present — needed to take a vote.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued this statement:
"I declared Election Integrity and Bail Reform to be must-pass emergency items for this legislative session. It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither will reach my desk. Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas. They will be added to the special session agenda. Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session."
House Speaker Dade Phelan also released a statement.
“Today, on the second to last day of session, a number of members have chosen to disrupt the legislative process by abandoning the legislative chamber before our work was done. In doing so, these members killed a number of strong, consequential bills with broad bipartisan support including legislation to ban no-knock warrants, reform our bail system, and invest in the mental health of Texans – items that their colleagues and countless advocates have worked hard to get to this point. 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.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo also reacted to Sunday night's events.