▶ Watch Video: CBSN

Washington — The Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to block a vote on a GOP-backed voting and elections bill are planning to hold a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to call on Congress to enact federal voting rights protections.

The Democratic lawmakers from the Texas House of Representatives left on Monday to prevent a quorum during the special legislative session that is being held because they scuttled the May legislative session —  also by leaving — to block the elections bill. More than 50 Democratic members of the Texas House left the state.

How to watch Texas Democrats’ press conference

  • What: Texas Democrats hold press conference to call for federal voting rights legislation 

  • Date: Tuesday, July 13, 2021

  • Time: 10 a.m. ET

  • Location: Capitol Hill

  • Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.

“We are determined to kill this bill in this special session that will end on August 7. We will stay out until then in order to do that,” Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said at a press conference Monday night after landing in the Washington, D.C., area. “There is no more time. We must pass strong federal voter protection legislation.”

Representative Chris Turner speaks to the press after Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives arrive at Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Virginia, on July 12, 2021.


Two main election bills are under consideration in the Texas House and Senate. Both measures would eliminate drive-thru and 24-hour early voting, expand early voting hours to some medium-sized counties, add identification requirements for voting by mail, increase criminal penalties for some election officials who don’t follow regulations and give more powers to poll watchers. 

Texas House Democratic leaders said in a statement Monday that they stand “united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.” They urged Congress to pass the For the People Act, a sweeping federal election bill, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which is aimed at shoring up a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. 

The decision to leave the state echoes a move by Democratic lawmakers in 2003 who fled to Oklahoma during a fight over redistricting. Leaving the state prevents law enforcement officials from rounding up lawmakers and forcing them to go back to work. But even if Democrats remain out of the state for the rest of the 30-day special session, Texas Governor Greg Abbott can call additional special sessions to tackle his legislative priorities.