Aug 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

AOC bucks up Texas Democrats in voting effort

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is seen speaking outside the U.S. Capitol.

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) praised and offered to reach out to any flagging Democratic Texas state lawmakers during an hour-long Zoom meeting Monday afternoon, two lawmakers who participated told Axios.

Why it matters: The Texans have been holed up in Washington for weeks to prevent Republicans back home from gaining the minimum number of lawmakers needed to pass legislation. The stalling tactic has helped keep voting rights in the national spotlight, Ocasio-Cortez told them.

  • AOC told a couple dozen state lawmakers on the call that if they gave her names and numbers, she would personally call their colleagues to urge them to continue preventing a quorum back in Austin.
  • Over the weekend, a district judge signed a temporary restraining order blocking their arrests should they return home. Some Democrats have since returned to Texas, which has frustrated others remaining in Washington, the Texas Tribune reported.
  • Ocasio-Cortez also said she would ask Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) about bringing federal voting rights bills to the floor for a vote, Texas state Rep. Ronald Reynolds told Axios.

What they're saying: "She encouraged us to continue to break quorum," Reynolds said. "She was very supportive in terms of giving ideas on strategy and in terms of how we can keep those who have grown a little weary."

  • "It's a marathon, it's not a sprint," Texas state Rep. Penny Morales Shaw told Axios. "But when we hear, for example, from AOC today — it's an infusion. It's an infusion of hope."
  • A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez did not respond to a request for comment.

The big picture: AOC has remained a powerful figure on the Hill since staging an upset primary win in 2018, and both state lawmakers expressed hope their meeting would spark more attention to their cause.

  • "If our members hear from other stakeholders or other elected officials — especially congressional elected officials — how important this is, then that helps," Morales Shaw said.
  • Just last week, AOC joined her colleague Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) in protesting on the Capitol steps over the expiration of an eviction moratorium put in place because of the pandemic. The Biden administration ultimately reinstated it.
  • The Dallas Morning News first reported that Texas Democrats were hopeful for a meeting with AOC.
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