By SUZANNE DOWNING
When Texas Democrat lawmakers cut and run from the Lone Star State to prevent Republicans from cleaning up the state’s election laws, where did they head? To the stronghold of the Democratic Party – the nation’s capital.
On private jets from Austin, with a case of Bud Lite strapped into its own seat, and private buses and hotel rooms awaiting, the Democrat lawmakers decamped to The Swamp, where they could get the approval and support from the president and vice president for their refusal to do their jobs in Texas.
They said they would put pressure on congressional Democrats to pass House Resolution 1, the “For the People Act,” a bill that Democrats, including the president and vice president, favor. HR 1 is a bill that would put the federal government in greater control of elections, which is constitutionally problematic, and which would destroy what is left of the public’s tattered faith in the integrity of our elections.
Running away is an old trick, and others have driven over the border to avoid a legislative quorum and vote. It’s what an irresponsible minority does.
Such a caper happened in Alaska in 1983, when Gov. Bill Sheffield used State Troopers to force a joint session of the Legislature in order to get the lawmakers to vote on the nomination of his Attorney General Norm Gorsuch.
At the time, 12 other cabinet members and about 60 appointees to boards and commissions had not received a confirmation vote. Sheffield’s Administration was left hanging, and without a vote to confirm, ultimately he would have had to renominate nearly an entire cabinet the next January.
In that instance, the legislative escapees were Republicans; Gov. Sheffield was a Democrat.
Sheffield had issued the call for a joint session, which put the power in the hands of the Democrat Senate President Jay Kerttula. But only 17 House members showed up, and troopers combed Juneau to find the runaways.
Some of them had hopped on a private plane and flew over to what was then a ghost town — Skagway. But some were averse to flying on a little plane out of the land-locked capital city, and ultimately the Troopers found four lawmakers and dragged them into the joint session. Legislative lore has it that Rep. Dick Schultz, of Chicken, Alaska, was brought in in handcuffs.
Democrats fled Wisconsin in 2011 to prevent a vote and block Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill from advancing.
It was also a tactic used in the French Revolution, with mixed results.
To succeed this year, the dissident Democrats will have to stay out of state until Aug. 7 in order to run out the clock on the special session.
Gov. Abbott is not without resources. He can call them back again and again into special session until they achieve a quorum of the 150 members needed to take up the voting integrity bill.
Also, Texas lawmen can arrest the wandering, beer-swilling Democrats, should they try to sneak back into Texas to get a change of clothes.
President Joe Biden has called Texas’ reform efforts “un-American.” Why? Texas wants to end drive-through voting, which was used in one county in Texas for the first time in history during the pandemic year of 2020.
Biden has never once complained about the stringent voting laws in his home state of Delaware.
But Gov. Abbott is not impressed with being called un-American by a swamp creature who has been a fixture of Washington, D.C. his whole life.
“As you probably know, Article One, Section 4 of the United States Constitution provides that states — not counties — have the authority to come up with the time, place and manner of elections,” Abbott said, “and Harris County violated the United States Constitution when they imposed 24-hour voting and drive-through voting that never had been done instead of Texas before.”
That seems clear enough.
The Texas Senate also wants to add voter identification requirements for mail-in voting and ban 24-hour voting locations and drop boxes that lead to possible fraud through voter harvesting. It’s the state’s right to do so.
“Our intent is to stay out and kill this bill this session,” Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner told reporters. Then, all the wayward Democrats broke into song: “We Shall Overcome,” an old slave hymn from the fields of the South.
In 2021, the mantra of the Democrats is that everything that slows down voter fraud is racist. And for Texas Democrats, they have a White House that supports that mantra.
Texas Democrats are setting a bad example and an even worse precedent. We can’t have a functioning Democracy if lawmakers won’t even allow Democracy to take place. It’s time for Texas Democrats to stop pulling the race card and go back to work.
Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska and Must Read America.