Texas Democrats Temporarily Block New Voting Restrictions Bill
Texas Democrats temporarily blocked the new Republicans voting restrictions bill on Sunday night when they left the House to block a vote. CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini joins Nancy Chen of CBSN with details on what’s in the bill.
– And in Texas, one of the most restrictive voting bills has stalled yet. In a late Sunday night move, state Democrats left House floors to prevent Republicans from pushing forward the controversial bill. It comes as other Republican-led states are doing the same in the wake of former President Trump’s electoral loss and his repeated and baseless accusations of widespread fraud. Christina Ruffini reports.
CHRISTINA RUFFINI: In a dramatic late-night maneuver, Democrats blocked the vote on Texas Senate Bill 7 just before the midnight deadline.
– We killed this bill.
CHRISTINA RUFFINI: And insulted last-minute provisions added to the bill behind closed doors, notably to make it easier for judges to reject election results on the basis of allegations of fraud. The bill is one of the most restrictive in the country. It bans drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting. Makes it illegal for counties to send unsolicited mail ballots. Adds new identification requirements for these ballots. And limits voting hours even during early voting, delaying the start until 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. A moment that Democrats specifically support after church voter campaigns in African American communities.
– Souls at the polls are sacred. Republicans were determined to pull this off.
CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Meanwhile, a 24-hour drive-thru vote popular with minority communities was first used last year in Harris County, which includes an increasingly diverse Houston, where President Biden has won by 13 points. Republicans say the legislation is needed to protect the integrity of the electoral system, although no major cases of fraud were reported in Texas in the last election.
– It is perhaps more of a problem of optics to restore the confidence of the American people. And in my state, they actually believe there was massive fraud.
– And Christina, who is now joining me directly from Washington. Christina, we’ve heard this defense repeatedly from Republicans and people believing that there was electoral fraud in 2020. In pushing this bill, were Republicans or supporters in Texas able to cite evidence of fraud? generalized?
CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Well, I think there’s a bit of a circular argument to what the real evidence is. The important thing to think about is the fact that Republicans hold a super majority in both Texas state legislatures. They have the House and the Senate. They have the governor. And they retained all of their seats at home that were vying for a vote in 2020. So if there had been widespread fraud, logic shows it would have been in their favor.
They also – there hasn’t been what we would – with these allegations of fraud so widespread, we would expect there to be cases, right. We would expect people to be prosecuted for this if it could be proven. It’s not something we’ve seen in Texas or any of the other states, encompassing widespread allegations that would have changed the outcome of the election.
And once again, Republicans have done very well in this election. So there is a bit of irony here in saying that we have to do this to protect the integrity of the vote. A vote they mostly won.
– And Christina, what happens next with this bill? And how does it compare to other states that have passed or are trying to change their election laws?
CHRISTINA RUFFINI: It goes along with its predecessors, doesn’t it. We have seen this in Florida. We have seen this in Georgia. What we hear from small businesses, big businesses in Texas who are worried about this because they fear backlash, as is the case with big business as we saw in these other states.
But it’s really driven by those Republican voters, especially Trump voters, who want to believe there was some kind of wrongdoing in the last election. And that’s why they lost, isn’t it. They simply refused to believe that the president could have lost on the merits.
Time and time again we have said that is not true. Time and time again, there has been no real evidence of widespread fraud. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t seem to matter to these people. As you’ve heard Republican Mike McCaul of Texas say, it’s all about optics. Someone else said this morning that this is a solution looking for a problem. But regardless, he seems to be popular with the electoral base.
Look, the midterms are coming next year. It’s about re-election and appealing to what people think they want. And that sounds like electoral reform in a state where voter fraud doesn’t really seem like a big deal.
– Meanwhile, President Biden initially set a Memorial Day deadline to reach agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure package. But this will not be achieved today. So where are the negotiations at this stage?
CHRISTINA RUFFINI: They are in progress. But we have the impression that there is a clock on it. The rhetoric from White House Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg seems to be OK, we’re working on it, but, you know, they’re losing a little patience. However, they are still negotiating. Republican negotiating team chief Shelley Moore Capito said over the weekend that she believed the negotiations were going well. Let her say the White House is negotiating in good faith. They will continue for the time being.
However, the two sides are still very far apart. Not just on the numbers, but on the definition of what counts as infrastructure, right. Republicans want to see it as something you can hit with a hammer, don’t they. Bridges, railways, trains, stations, it all. The President of the White House argues that infrastructure must also include these social safety nets that help support people so they can enjoy all other things. And to make our economy more resilient the next time it’s tested in something like a pandemic.
So, more than numbers, they’re going to have to find some sort of theoretical agreement on what the definition of infrastructure really is if they hope to come up with a compromise bill. And to be honest, that seems unlikely even if they are negotiating in good faith.
– We will look. Christina Ruffini, thank you for joining us.
CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Thank you.