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Texas State Rep. Chris Turner flanked by other Texas Democrats. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dozens of Texas Democratic lawmakers held a press conference in D.C. on Tuesday to urge Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation, one day after they fled Texas to block the Republican-led legislature from passing restrictive new voting laws.

The latest: The Texas House of Representatives voted Tuesday to track down and force the Democrats to return to the legislature "under warrant of arrest if necessary," though it's unclear how that could be accomplished since Texas law enforcement lacks jurisdiction in D.C., according to the Texas Tribune.

Driving the news: The Democratic lawmakers acknowledged Tuesday that the gambit to prevent the Texas House from achieving quorum is only a temporary solution, noting they "are living right now on borrowed time in Texas."

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Monday that the lawmakers who left the state will be arrested upon their return to the state. He added that he will continue to call for special sessions until voting legislation is passed.
  • 57 Democratic lawmakers who fled Texas have asked the state House clerk to lock their voting machines in their absence.

What they're saying: "Our intent is to stay out and kill this bill, this session, and use the intervening time — I think 24, 25 days now — before the end of this session to implore [Congress] to pass federal voting rights legislation to protect voters in Texas and across the country," Texas State Rep. Chris Turner said at the conference.

  • "We can't hold this tide back forever. We're buying some time, we need Congress and all of our federal leaders to use that time wisely," Turner added.
  • Turner said that he hopes President Biden — who is delivering a major speech on voting rights on Tuesday afternoon — will give a "clear plan of action" on how to break gridlock in the Senate to pass voting rights legislation this summer.

The big picture: Senate Republicans last month filibustered the "For The People Act," a sweeping federal elections overhaul that would create national standards for early voting and voter registration, end partisan gerrymandering, reform campaign finance and ethics laws, and more.

  • There is no virtually no chance of the bill earning the 60 votes it needs in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. Even if Democrats moved to abolish the filibuster, which is also highly unlikely, moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has expressed opposition to the bill.
  • The Texas voting bills are part of a wave of proposals to restrict access to the ballot box being considered in GOP-led state legislatures in the wake of the 2020 election.

What to watch: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would be meeting with the Texas Democrats later today "to plot out strategy and to praise them for what they are doing," per CNN.

Go deeper

White House blasts Texas bill targeting trans youth in sports as "hateful"

LGBTQ rights supporters gather at the Texas State Capitol to protest state Republican-led efforts to pass legislation that would restrict the participation of transgender student athletes. Photo: Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images

A White House spokesperson on Tuesday condemned a Texas bill that would force public school students to play on sports teams based on their assigned sex at birth, telling the Dallas Morning News the legislation is "hateful."

Why it matters: If passed, Texas would become the 10th state in the country to enact legislation banning transgender kids from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity, per NBC News.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

Oct 20, 2021 - Axios Atlanta

Scoop: Georgia's Raffensperger calls for bipartisan election reform

Photo: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Axios that it's time for a bipartisan commission on federal election reform, like the one co-chaired by former Democratic President Jimmy Carter and former Republican Secretary of State James Baker in 2005.

Why it matters: Raffensperger refused former President Donald Trump’s request last year to "find" the votes to overturn Georgia’s election results and defended the state's 2020 vote count from members of his own party.

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