So, that stack of bills that didn’t get passed that I mentioned in my other post? It was a big stack and some of them were much-needed, like changes to Medicaid, solar energy incentives, Board of Education reform, controllling development in the Hill Country, and a whole lot more.
So, what happened? Voter ID, that’s what. Changing the laws so that citizens would have to present a current driver’s license, or two other forms of identification, in addition to their voter registration. Texas Republicans, like Republicans in numerous other states, have been pushing for voter ID for several sessions. Texas Democrats, like Democrats in those other states, have blocked such efforts, calling them what they really are: voter suppression aimed at intimidating minorities and seniors.
Democrats had been able to block previous Voter ID attempts because of the longstanding state rule requiring a two-thirds supermajority to bring legislation to the floor for a vote. So, right off the bat, early in this session, the Senate voted to suspend the two-thirds requirement and they passed Voter ID. You might remember the last time the two-thirds requirement was suspended…when the bill clearing the way for the Republicans gerrymandering redistricting of the state passed.
So, the Senate rammed through their shiny brand new voter suppression bill and sent it to the House. Then began the time-honored dance of strategically massaging the legislative calendar and agenda such that it favors legislation that the dominant party, the Lt. Governor, the Speaker, and the Governor (all Republicans) want to get passed. By backloading the calendar so that critical bills would be imperiled if the Democrat-heavy House decided to try and delay passage of Voter ID or water it down with amendments, the Republicans essentially were betting they could beat the Dems in brinksmanship, doubling down on the certainty that the Democrats would blink and back down.
But the Dems didn’t blink.
After weeks of haggling in committee, Voter ID came up for a vote and the Democrats in the Housebegan to chub. Chubbing is akin to filibustering, talking about minor bills and points of law and possible amendments while running down the clock until, at the last minute, everything has to get rearranged so that legislation that absolutely has to get passed becomes the priority.
And that’s how the Texas House Democrats successfully killed Voter ID. Yes, there was undeniably high collateral damage, and yes the Republicans called them partisan obstructionists dependent on hordes of illegal brown voters to keep them in office, but they did something I sure haven’t seen much of in the U.S. Congress: they acted like Democrats and killed a bill aimed at disenfranchising minorities, the poor, and the elderly. Like House minority leader Jim Dunnam said,
voters, if you are not willing to stand up to that you shouldn’t be a