tv Texas Democratic Lawmakers on States GOP Voting Bills CSPAN July 13, 2021 1:30pm-1:58pm EDT
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>> members of the u.s. house delegation from texas joined texas democratic state legislators to talk about the state special legislative session to vote on voting bills. they fled their home state to prevent the republican legislation from having a quorum to conduct business. this is about half an hour. [indistinct conversation] >> good morning, everybody. thank you very much for being here this morning. first of all, i want to thank
all of our friends, the democrats in the texas legislature, for doing the right thing, coming to washington, d.c. to shine the light on a very important topic in this country -- the eroding of voting rights since 19 65, since the voting rights act was passed in the mid 60's. we have not seen this level of retrogression and the rights of people casting their votes since that time period. people need to do something about it. this group that is here today is exactly doing that, something about it, they are standing up and doing the right thing. congressman doggett and i are very happy to be here today. the first person you will hear from is chris turner, the chair of the house democratic proces caucus in austin -- democratic caucus in austin. we are happy to have all these courageous members here today.
they made big sacrifices to be here today. these members all come from a variety of different districts, some of them come from what we call frontline districts in d.c., they are making a sacrifice. so all americans regardless of their race, their income, their party affiliation will have equal access to the ballot. that is what this is about. before i turn it over, i would like congressman doggett to also have a few words, then chris. >> we will wrap this up at the end, but clearly they brought the texas team along with the texas courage. [laughter] we are here to honor them and their courage. their focus not just on what is happening in texas, but what is happening right over there in the u.s. senate. it is a time for bold action. the same kind of bold action and courage we need in the u.s. senate. and from this administration. that these texas colleagues of ours are demonstrating by their action. thank you for your leadership.
>> thank you. thank you, congressmen, and our entire texas congressional delegation, all of whom do such a fabulous job at representing the lone star state, fighting for the people of texas every single day. we can't thank you enough, and thank you for hosting us here this morning. my name is chris turner. i am the chair of the texas house to mccarter caucus, a state representative from grand prairie. as you just heard, more than 50 democratic members of the texas house have left texas to stop republicans of passing their latest iteration of voter suppression legislation. you will hear primarily from some of my colleagues today. we have so many strong voices in our caucus.
we want to give them the opportunity to speak to the public. for everyone's awareness, procedurally, how this works, there's 150 members of the texas house. it takes two thirds of the body present to constitute a quorum. 100 members. we vote in texas and register attendance by use of voting machines on our desks. minutes ago, at least 57 letters were delivered to the house clerk, directing the house to lock our voting machines and not unlock them until we provide permission to do so upon a return to the capitol. with that, it is my privilege now to introduce a great fighter, a longtime advocate in the fight for voting rights, my good friend, the chairman of the
which is the mexican american legislative caucus. you will see prominent members of our caucus standing with me today who have fought for voting rights over the decades. i just want to offer that at the outset of this legislative session, the process was poisoned. and it was poisoned by a governor who defunded the legislative branch in violation of both our state constitution, which has very specific language about separation of powers, and also what's been developed under the jurisprudence of our u.s. constitution. when you start the process in such a corrupt way, saying i will be the absolute ruler of the state of texas and defund the legislative branch, you have poisoned the entire process, and we as democrats, we were united. we said, we are going to kill any undemocratic efforts in the state legislature. you have probably [no audio]
legislation that would make it harder for texans to exercise their freedom of vote and their right to vote. we are not doing this for democrats. we are doing this for republicans. we are doing this for independence. -- independents, for catholics and protestants, anybody in the state of texas who needs to exercise their right to vote should do so freely. and we are not going to buckle to the big lie in the state of texas. the big lie that has resulted -- [applause] -- that has resulted in antidemocratic legislation throughout the united states. we said, no, when the big lie came to the big n texas and darkens our door, we said no during the regular session, and we are saying no during the regular session. we are happy to work on bipartisan proposals that expand the right to vote. that make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in the state of texas, but that is not what we saw, even at the outset of this
process, when none of the amendments offered by my colleagues were considered in committee. so we took the very difficult decision, we said, we are not here smiling, we are not saying that we are happy. we are in fact sat for democracy in the state of texas. and we took a solemn oath to protect the constitution of the u.s. and the state of texas. and that is where we stand united before you here today, in preserving not only the democracy in texas, but the democracy of the u.s. thank you for your time. [applause] and, i would like to, if she has arrived, call up the chair -- the vice chair of the house democratic caucus. in her absence, i would then like to call representative read about -- represent of read about -- call my colleague. >> thank you, thank you
all for being here today. i used to live here in washington. i worked, like you, for the press, for pbs, and it is a proud, pleasing moment to be back here with my colleagues, as a member of the texas house. we are here in d.c., our nations capitol, because we want to protect the civil right to vote for millions of texans. we were quite literally forced to move and leave the state of texas. we also know that we are living right now on borrowed time in texas. and we can't stay here indefinitely. to run out the clock, to stop republican anti-voter bills. that is where we need congress to act now and past before the
people act -- pass before the people act. -- pass the for the people act. we need congress to act now. at this time, i'm going to call up chairman turner. >> thank you. let me now hand it back over to our congressional leaders. congressman bc and congressman doggett. >> i know everyone on capitol hill is familiar that there are security protocols. representative tenney rose is approaching.
he is represented a from dallas. she serves as the first vice chair of the house democratic caucus chair. she is our dear friend and leader in our caucus. i invite her up to speak here. >> thank you. you know, republicans have failed texans. texas republicans do not want free and fair elections. house bill three puts deliberate barriers on voting to make it harder for texans to cast a free and equal vote. house bill three is an attack on voters' freedom and democracy. even with two ruthless provisions removed, the bill as written makes it harder for texans to vote. and allows poll watchers to
intimidate and harass voters. rigging the system, attacking the very foundations of democracy and texans. it is the price they are willing to pay in order to pay for trump's [indiscernible] so, we have real issues to address in texas. that greg abbott won't touch, because it exposes his weaknesses. he's done nothing to protect the electoral grid. even after 700 people died -- the electric grid. even after 700 people died. it is time to work on real issues. thank you. [applause] >> before we hear from our congressional members again, it is my honor to introduce the
dean of the texas house democratic caucus chair, presented of thompson -- representative thompson. [applause] >> i'm going to say why i am up here. i'm not up here to take a vacation in washington, d.c. when i look at the american museum, i thought about the struggle of my people starting this country to get the right to vote. that right is sacred to my constituents, and i represent them back in houston, texas. i am up here because i don't plan to be a sitting person and that legislature -- in that legislature. i'm not going to be sitting -- i'm not going to be a hostage. [applause] but my constituents ought to be stripped from them. we have fought too long in this country. president lyndon b.
johnson in 1965 fought so that we had the right to vote. this legislature may have changed the messiah from jesus to trump, but i haven't, and i'm going to make sure that everything that i can do, that my constituents' rights are stripped from them because of what they believe, the lie, that -- they believe, the lie. trump lost the election. [applause] >> let me hand it back to our members of congress. that is going to be a difficult act to follow, with all due respect, congressmen. >> chris, think you very much. when i think about ms. thompson, she doesn't tell you the entire
story. we served in the state legislator together. when she was elected to the state legislature, it was really after the civil rights bills of the 1960's were passed. we were just getting rid of poll taxes. the barriers that made it harder for people to vote. and it is a shame that today, in 2021, that we are revisiting the past. that is exact we what we are doing. if they tell you otherwise, they are like, anybody can do that, that is not that big of a deal, it is. and they wouldn't be doing this if they didn't think it would have a negative outcome on, particularly, brown and black voters in the state of texas and in the other states that are doing similar legislation. that is why they founded the congressional voting rights caucus, because you could see these things for the last
10-15-20 years starting to rear its ugly head again. with that, i want to be 100% clear. now, not later, not sometime in the future, now, we need to pass a john lewis voting rights act. it needs to be signed into law, and we also need to pass hr 1. our citizens can't wait any longer. i want to echo what our majority whip mentioned, when he mentioned a carveout for hr 4, the john lewis voting rights act, if they did a carveout for amy barrett, then we ought to do a carveout for the people that live in torture, texas, -- in florida, texas, so they can exercise their right to vote. we need to get this done today. time is of the essence. we cannot wait. states are going to start to ramp up these efforts.
governor abbott called the legislature back into session to start working on these things. you are going to see the most racist redistricting that you've seen since the voting rights act outlawed things like at large districts. and we need something to help protect the brave men and women that you see standing behind me here today that are risking so much for voting rights in this country. and before i turn it over to congressman doggett, i just want greg abbott and the republican leaders in texas, florida, georgia, anywhere else to know that we are not going to stop. we are always going to push back against these sort of bigoted, racist, jim crow 2.0 style boating laws whenever you decide to bring them up. congressman doggett. -- voting laws whenever you decide to bring them up. congressman doggett. [applause] >> most of the focus around here
these days is around infrastructure. it is right that we focus on crumbling bridges, but today we are here about something much more important, and that is the info structure of democracy, about broken voting rights. these courageous colleagues chose not to be accomplices by sitting at their desk and being steamrolled. it took courage to do what they are doing. i served also with thompson, at a time i was a killer bee when, -- killer bee, when 12 of us chose to depart. what can changes right here in this building. as dean thompson mentioned, what we really need today is a lyndon johnson moment. we need the power of the presidency, a great
president and vice president and every democrat in the senate working together to preserve american democracy. there is seldom then more at stake. that is why they are here. we need to see in the administration and in the senate the same courage that these texans have demonstrated. that lyndon johnson moment -- remember how difficult it was to pass the voting rights act of 1965? when we gathered in austin, johnson was one of our most powerful speakers, talking about standing at the desk when president johnson signed that voting rights act. we want to be standing there when he knew voting rights act of this century is there, and the rights that somebody struggled for, so many lives were taken, so much courage was demonstrated come are preserved once again. -- so much courage was
demonstrated for, are preserved once again. thank you for what you and your colleagues are doing here today. >> ♪ we will overcome we will overcome we will overcome someday ♪ ♪ >> thank you, members of congress. [applause] we will take a few questions. >> loving members of congress -- lobbying members of congress -- what will be different this time? >> democracy is hard. we don't expect anything up here to be easy. but we conducted meetings a few weeks ago with those of us who were here. we brought some reinforcements this time.
after we were here, use all 50 democrats in the u.s. senate coalesced behind a version of hr 1. we are not taking credit for that, but progress was made. we think those discussions we had helped inform the discussion. so now, as congressman doggett said, we really want to drill down on the importance of the democratic leader, clyburn's comments, with respect to voting rights. if you can have a carveout for a right-wing supreme court justice, why can't you have a carveout to protect the very fundament is of our democracy? -- fundamentals of our democracy? >> even if [indiscernible] expiring, they will call another
session? are you going to do this over and over again? >> that is exact we what we are going to do, we know exactly what will happen. many years ago, there was a similar situation. what our message is is very simple, to stay out and kill this bill this session and use the intervening time, 24-tony five days of the session -- 24-25 days of the session, to implore the members of this building behind us to pass federal footing rest legislation for texans and for people across the country -- voting rights legislation for texans and for people across the country. >> [indiscernible] what are you prepared for, to give back? >> with respect to republicans in austin? the first thing that needs to happen is governor abbott needs to stand down the legislative
branch of government. this caucus is pursuing action in the texas supreme court, because we believe what he did is unconstitutional. the first place to start would be for the governor to standdown on that. then we can start talking. >> [indiscernible] what do you say to him or others saying that? >> john cornyn, this was a publicity stunt? ok. i hadn't seen that. but i think our two u.s. senators wrote the book on publicity stunts. what i would say to senator cornyn is, we would encourage him to work in a bipartisan manner, as the people of texas elected him to do the past voting rights legislation -- to pass voting rights legislation. >> you mentioned a moment in the
white house with the president, are you happy with the amount that you've seen president biden and vice president harris pushing on this? or do you think there's more they can be doing? >> a number of us had the privilege of having a very good meeting with vice president harris a few weeks ago, where she thanked all the democrats in the texas house and the senate for our strong stand against the republican suppression efforts. -- voting suppression efforts. they committed to do all they could. we are looking forward to seeing with the president says today in his speech on voting rights in philadelphia. we hope what we will here is an even stronger commitment and a clear plan of action, as to how we can break the gridlock in the senate and pass federal legislation immediately this summer. we have a short window here, as was previously mentioned this session ends on august 7, and we cannot hold this tied back
forever. we are buying sometime. -- tide back forever. we are buying some time. we should use that time wisely. -- they should use that time wisely. thank you very much. [and distinct conversations] -- [in distinct conversations] announcer: john cornyn said texas state democratic lawmakers are asylum-seekers, after they left the state to stub a vote on voting changes in their state, calling it a political stunt -- stop a vote on voting changes in their states, calling it a political stunt. >> just when you think you've seen it all, mr. president, something new happens here in washington, d.c. all eyes are nown