TEXAS, USA — It has been three days since Texas Democrats fled the state in what they have called, "a last attempt to block a restrictive voting bill.”
Even though Republican officials are threatening Democrats with arrest warrants, the Democrats continue their holdout in Washington D.C. As of Wednesday, neither side is negotiating or backing down.
Democrats are staying productive by meeting with senators like Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar to rally lawmakers for federal voting legislation, state Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Texas, said.
GOP lawmakers later met with retired teachers pledging their support to get them a thirteenth check. It is a measure that had been shot down during the regular session by some of those in attendance Thursday.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan is making it harder for lawmakers in Austin to leave the House floor while they are in session.
Now, they can only walk out of the doors with permission slips, and he is demanding that Democratic lawmakers who left the state return their per diem paycheck to taxpayers.
That would total up to $221 if Democrats stayed away until the 30-day session ends. Democrats say that is the plan. They are vowing to stay in Washington D.C. until August 7, but Gov. Greg Abbot vowed to continue calling special sessions, until voting laws get passed in the state.
Wednesday marks day three of a holdout from Texas Democrats and State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, said he is in it for the long haul.
"Some department store if I need to buy additional things, I did not really worry about how long it was going to be," Deshotel said.
The goal of Democrats is to block GOP-backed election reform legislation.
The Democratic representative said the last two days have been spent lobbying for federal support with senators like Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, along with Vice President Kamala Harris.
"Our goal is to kill this particularly piece of legislation, and try to emphasize upon the federal government, the federal congress and senate, the need to pass the federal legislation.
Abbott has made it clear in several interviews, that Democrats are going to have a hard time blocking voting legislation in Texas.
“I will be calling special session after special session after special session all the way up to election day next year if I have to,” Abbott said.
Republicans on the local level agree.
"It is unlike Texans to run from a fight," said Jefferson County Republican Chair Judy Nichols.
The trip to Washington D.C. is a ploy by Democrats, she said.
"Well, again they agree that this is a partisan ploy to nationalize our elections, and that’s not good for Southeast Texas,” she said. “Local control serves the citizens better because local control means local accountability."
Nichols believes the proposed legislation would increase the integrity of elections.
"Paxton has prosecuted a lot of voter fraud, and that’s what protects your vote and my vote because we need voting to be easy, but we also need it to be hard to cheat," Nichols said.
It appears Democrats are doing whatever they can to block GOP-backed election legislation, and it seems the next step is to look for help from the federal government. The house does not have a quorum, however Gov. Abbott said he will continue calling more sessions until the Democrats return.
The Republican party is also still at work at the Texas State Capitol regardless of Democratic absence. On Tuesday, Senate Bill 1 was passed by an 18–4 vote. However, things are still at a standstill with most of the Democrats in Washington D.C.