Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott on June 18 vetoed part of a bill funding the state’s legislature in response to a walkout staged by Democrats last month to block the passage of an election reform bill.
“Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session,” Abbott said in a statement, according to the Tribune.
Abbott issued the veto in response to the walkout by Democrats last month which broke quorum and blocked the passage of an election overhaul bill and bail legislation, both of which he flagged as priorities.
Texas Democrats abandoned the floor of the state’s House on the night of May 30 in a move reportedly orchestrated by State Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the House Democratic Caucus. According to several media outlets, Turner had sent a text message informing other Democrats to “leave the chamber discreetly” ahead of the midnight deadline for the two bills’ passage.
Turner decried the veto in a statement.
“Texas has a governor, not a dictator or emperor. The tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is the latest indication that Governor Greg Abbott is simply out of control,” Turner said. “Abbott’s actions are an inexcusable and dangerous attack on the separation of powers, as his veto consolidates more power in his own office.”
After the walkout, Abbott said the bills still “must pass” and vowed to call for a special session.
“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,” the governor wrote on Twitter on May 31. “Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session.”
The election reform bill would grant more power to poll watchers by giving them more access inside polling areas, while creating new penalties against election officials who restrict poll watchers’ movements. The proposal would also allow a judge to void the outcome of an election if the number of fraudulent votes could change the result.
Democrats, including President Joe Biden, attacked the law.
“It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote,” Biden said in a statement.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.