Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has vetoed a part of his state’s budget that funds the state legislature. His veto was in response to House Democrats who walked out last Sunday night in order to prevent the passage of a Republican bill that would’ve limited state voting access.
“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,” Abbott said in a statement. “I therefore object to and disapprove of these appropriations.”
The bill, S.B. 7, restricts absentee voting in the state, expands authority for partisan poll watchers, increases penalties for election official misdeeds and also bans drive-through and 24-hour voting.
Abbott and Republicans prioritized the bill during the legislative session. But when Democrats walked out last Sunday, they deprived the House of the minimum number of legislators needed to vote on the measure.
Abbott’s veto affect the legislature’s funding from September onward. It could also force state Democrats for a special legislative session this summer. If they return, Republicans are expected to pass the bill then. Republicans could either resubmit the same language from the current bill or create a new one with even stricter provisions.
However, the section of the budget that Abbott vetoed, Article X, also funds the state Legislative Reference Library and Legislative Budget Board, according to The Texas Tribune. Both agencies are integral to helping policymakers craft legislation.
“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.” Turner called Abbott’s veto an “abuse of power.” He said the state Democratic caucus “is exploring every option, including immediate legal options, to fight back.”
State Democrats have criticized the Republican voting bill as a way to prevent Black citizens and citizens of color from voting. Democrats also say the bill stems from Republican former President Donald Trump‘s baseless claim that widespread voter fraud “stole” the 2020 election from him. Republicans have said the bill neither targets non-white voters nor was created in response to the last election. The new bill is about making voting more secure, state Republicans said.
Texas has been ranked as the state that makes it most difficult for citizens to vote, according to a Northern Illinois University study released in October 2020. Texas has strict voter ID laws and has significantly reduced the number of polling stations across the state, the study said.
Newsweek contacted Turner’s office for comment.