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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

Scoop: U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett teases run in proposed Austin district

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett speaks at a rally at the state Capitol on June 20, 2021 in Austin. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a longtime Democratic congressman from Austin, indicated to Axios that he plans to announce his run for a seat in a newly proposed congressional district in Austin.

Why it matters: The newly crafted district, part of the redrawing of political boundaries every 10 years to account for population growth, is expected to be a safe Democratic seat that will include parts of Travis and Williamson counties.

Oct 15, 2021 - Health

Texas abortion ban stumps businesses

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies and CEOs are reluctant to speak out against Texas’ abortion ban because they fear there’s more to lose than gain.

Why it matters: As the de facto fourth branch of government, CEOs face more pressure to drive social and political change.

Texas superintendent apologizes after official's Holocaust comments

Photo by: Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A Texas superintendent apologized to his district on Thursday after a top official told teachers to "make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives."

Why it matters: The comment, which was first reported by NBC News, led to widespread outrage. State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle condemned the implication of an "opposing" side, as did the Anti-Defamation League.

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