AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered lawmakers back to work in July, raising expectations of another attempt to pass new voting restrictions after Democrats blocked the GOP's first try with a dramatic late-night walkout in May.
However, Abbott did not reveal why he was ordering a special legislative session starting July 8 — saying only in a two-sentence announcement that an agenda would come later. As governor, only Abbott can determine what issues lawmakers take up during a special session.
But Abbott has previously made clear that he would bring lawmakers back to pass new election laws after Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives left the chamber one by one less than two hours before a midnight deadline over Memorial Day weekend, denying the GOP majority the quorum needed to pass what was one of the nation’s most restrictive voting measures.
Democrats have vowed to continue fighting GOP efforts to reduce polling hours and voting access in Texas after staging the last-ditch revolt to stop the sweeping elections overhaul from reaching Abbott’s desk. None has called for a boycott of the special session and the Republicans’ commanding majority means it's likely that an elections bill will ultimately pass.
Special sessions in Texas last up to 30 days, but could end sooner if the GOP-controlled Legislature works fast and delivers a bill to Abbott’s liking.
An expansive elections and voting bill by Democrats in Congress stalled in the Senate on Tuesday over Republican opposition. President Joe Biden has vowed what the White House calls the “fight of his presidency” over ensuring Americans’ access to voting.