Democratic Texas state lawmakers are in Washington D.C. this week in order to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris and congressional Democrats. Although these meetings are largely symbolic, the group of Texas lawmakers are pressuring their party to pass sweeping voting rights and election reform bills, NPR reports.
The expansive For the People Act, or H.R.1, is currently stalled in the Senate, and Democrats have failed to unite over a strategy to overcome the opposition. As Colorlines previously reported:
The landmark bill, which passed in the House on March 3, would “curb voter suppression and make it easier for all Americans to register to vote and cast a ballot,” according to The Brennan Center. It would also “outlaw partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts” and “overhaul our campaign finance laws to amplify the voices of ordinary Americans.”
The group of more than a dozen state legislatures from Texas, who on Tuesday, June 15, had a “very robust conversation” with Harris, according to ABC News, acknowledged that the Senate is a huge hurdle to overcome, but Democrats have to keep fighting. “We know it’s a priority for the administration but quite frankly it lies in the Senate,” State Sen. Carol Alvarado, the chair of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, said after the meeting at the White House Wednesday.
Harris expressed her admiration for the state lawmakers, calling them “courageous leaders” for staging a walkout in the Texas statehouse last month, which denied Republicans a quorum they needed in order to pass a restrictive voting bill, according to NPR. The group was celebrated by voting rights activists and Democrats across the country.
“We are not asking for the bestowal of a right. We are talking about the preservation of the right, that is the right of citizenship,” Harris said while meeting with the Texas lawmakers. “When I look at that, and the – the fact that Americans are at risk of losing their access to their right … we know we have a great challenge in front of us and therefore fight.”
The right to vote is fundamental in our democracy. Today, I met with Texas state legislators to discuss how we can stop legislation that will make it harder for Americans to exercise their right to vote. pic.twitter.com/Mxpd9oVF4Y— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) June 16, 2021
Harris reiterated to the Texas lawmakers that she and President Joe Biden are absolutely committed to seeing Congress pass both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, or HR 4, ABC reports. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also promised that he would bring the Senate’s version of the For the People Act to the floor next week for a vote. Due to Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia’s opposition to the bill, the Senate’s version of the bill “could look very different from the version passed by the House,” according to ABC.
Texas State legislatures expressed to reporters that they still have faith that Manchin will do what’s right for the country. “We’re not going to give up on him because we believe that although he has other things in his district to take care of, we believe this is paramount to the people of the United States,” said state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the dean of the Texas House Democratic Caucus.