AUSTIN, Texas — Democratic Texas lawmakers met with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House Wednesday to talk about voting rights in the U.S. Harris’s invitation came after Texas House Democrats blocked the passage of Senate Bill 7 in May.
"We have a great challenge in front of us, and therefore a fight," said Harris." We have to fight for every American's meaningful right to vote."
According to a press release from the Office of the Vice President, the passage of SB 7 “would have made it significantly harder for the people of Texas to vote.” If passed, SB 7 would create new limitations on early voting hours, increase voting-by-mail restrictions and curb local voting options like drive-thru voting in Texas.
"This is not a Democratic or a Republican issue; this is an American issue. This is an American issue," said Harris.
Texas Democrats are also encouraging the U.S. Senate to pass a series of voting rights bills: the For the People Act (HR 1) and John Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR 4), according to a press release from Rep. Gina Hinojosa.
Member of the Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Hinojosa, who represents Austin, attended the meeting.
"It is an honor to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the importance of securing voting rights and ballot access for all Americans,” she said in a statement. “As a representative from Austin, it is not lost on me that more than 50 years ago President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who also hailed from Central Texas, championed and secured the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965; it is now our fight to preserve and protect those same voting rights for all Texans. We, again, look to Washington for help."
Texas House Democrats walked off the House floor last month to stop the passage of SB 7. Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state would hold a special session later this year to discuss both SB 7 and House Bill 20 after neither passed. Both bills were Republican priority legislation.
Texas Democrats also hosted a press conference Tuesday on SB 7 and the passage of those federal voting rights bills.
Texas Democratic Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement Wednesday:
“It is an honor to see our state Democratic leaders meet with Vice President Kamala Harris today to discuss preserving, protecting, and expanding voting rights in Texas. Just a few weeks ago, our Democratic state representatives showed the country what courage and leadership look like as they broke quorum to stop the worst assault on voting rights in the state since Jim Crow. What Republicans have attempted in Texas is the prime example of why we need federal legislation protecting voting rights and our democracy, and we are thrilled that our legislators were able to meet with the Vice President and national leaders this week in D.C. to discuss how urgent the need is for federal legislation like the For the People Act.
“Our fight is not over. Gov. Abbott and Texas Republicans continue to push the passage of legislation that restricts our access and ability to vote in free and fair elections across the state. Texas cannot afford to wait much longer for federal action: the Governor has threatened to call legislators back to Austin to push his extreme, anti-democracy agenda.
“Democrats will continue to fight for the voice of all Texans. We are grateful to President Biden and Vice President Harris for their unwavering support for the people of Texas, and for their willingness to do the work to protect the right to vote across our country.”
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