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Texas Governor Greg Abbott threatened to cut off funding for the legislature after Democrats walked out of the final session to prevent the passage of Abbott’s voter integrity bill.
The governor followed through on that threat yesterday and vetoed the sections of the state budget that fund legislative agencies and pay for lawmakers.
Abbott said in a statement that “Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business.”Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session.”
“I therefore object to and disapprove of these appropriations,” the governor said.
Democrats are calling the move an “abuse of power”
“Texas has a governor, not a dictator,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said in a statement. “The tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is the latest indication that [Abbott] is simply out of control.”
It’s a silly argument that won’t get anywhere in court if they’re dumb enough to sue.
Since Abbott issued his threat earlier this month, other lawmakers and political leaders have raised concerns over how the move could impact staffers and legislative agencies that are funded by Article X, which is the section of the budget he vetoed, such as the Legislative Reference Library and the Legislative Budget Board.
“I’m just concerned how it impacts them because they weren’t the ones who decided that we were going to break quorum, it wasn’t their decision, right?,” said House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, in an interview earlier this month.
Since the new budget begins September 1, it isn’t likely anyone will have to be laid off or any agency ceases operations. But state Democrats have to find another way to block Abbott’s voter integrity bill.
The Legislature is expected to convene for at least two special sessions, Abbott has said in interviews. One, set for September or October, will focus on the redrawing of the state’s political maps and the doling out of $16 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds. Before that, the governor has said he will call lawmakers back to work on the elections and bail bills, as well as other issues he has not yet announced.
The Democrats’ hysteria about the voter integrity bill isn’t likely to cost them anything. Once back in session, Republicans will make sure Democrats are present to vote by attaching the bill to another measure they can’t afford to walk out on.
Preventing passage of the bill was legislative theater, not serious lawmaking. That seems to be the Democrats’ favorite tactic these days.