As Democrat lawmakers shut down business in the Texas House this week, jetting off to Washington, D.C., for a series of press appearances, the Texas Senate passed a GOP-priority election integrity bill at the center of the partisan special session showdown.
Senate Bill 1 by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola) is a revised version of the comprehensive election reform bill Hughes filed earlier this year, which the Republican-run Legislature failed to pass during the 140-day regular session.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed SB 1 on a party-line vote of 18-4.
Nine Democrat senators were absent, having joined more than 50 House Democrats on their quorum-busting trip to D.C.
“Instead of taking beer to go, Democrats should’ve taken this bill to go,” State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston) said during Tuesday’s debate on SB 1.
“We need to be reading the bill and talking about what’s actually in it,” Bettencourt said, listing several provisions that are—and are not—included in the bill.
“People are being misled about the basic facts in this bill,” Hughes added, calling Democrats’ criticisms invoking Jim Crow laws “reckless and false.”
For months, Democrats in Texas and nationwide have unleashed a stream of coordinated attacks on Republicans’ election integrity reform bills, demonizing them as “voter suppression” and “bad for business.”
“How much fraud is okay? None. How much suppression is okay? None. That’s why this bill makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Hughes concluded.
Tuesday’s vote followed a 14-hour public hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee over the weekend.
SB 1 will now go to the House, but it’s unclear if or when a sufficient number of Democrats will return to conduct business before this special session ends on August 6.