Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that he would veto the portion of the state budget that funds the legislative branch, one day after Democratic lawmakers blocked a Republican-backed election bill in the House.
In a tweet announcing the move, Abbott indicated that his decision was a response to lawmakers who “abandon their responsibilities.” The Texas governor was a strong advocate for the passage of the elections bill.“I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch,” Abbott said. “No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned.”
Abbott’s action came hours after Democratic lawmakers left the House floor and broke quorum ahead of a planned vote on Senate Bill 7, a measure which had drawn widespread criticism from the party. As a result of the protest, the Texas House was unable to hold a vote on the bill prior to a midnight deadline.
Democratic State Rep. Gene Wu slammed Abbott over the planned veto.
“Punishing working class office staff, maintenance, and other support services because he didn’t get every single one of his demands is very on-brand for Texas Republicans,” Wu tweeted.
The move by Democrats marked the fourth time in state history that lawmakers broke quorum to protest a bill, according to the Dallas Morning News. If enacted, the bill would make changes to election requirements by expanding the authority of partisan poll watchers, enacting bans on 24-hour and drive-thru voting and increasing penalties for election workers who violate protocols.
State Rep. Carl Sherman told the newspaper that Democratic lawmakers acted after being informed that Republicans would move to end debate on the bill.
“Unfortunately it looks like that the only option we have, according to a senior member of the Republican Party who said we would not have an opportunity to speak against the bill,” Sherman said. “And that’s not a democracy to me. I guess they were sick and tired of hearing our views on this. They decided they were going to ram this down our throats.”
Shortly after the walkout, Abbott tweeted that he would convene a special session of the legislature for further consideration of the bill. The governor called the bill a “must-pass emergency item.”
Abbot and other Republicans have argued the bill is necessary to ensure voting integrity after a combative 2020 election cycle. State Democrats argue the measures amounted to voter suppression and have accused Republicans proceeded without sufficient consultation.