A dramatic walkout in the Texas House of Representatives late on Sunday night stopped the vote on the voter suppression bill by declaring the legislative session over.
One by one, Democrats left the House chamber until there was no longer the 100-member quorum needed to pass Senate Bill 7, which would have reduced polling hours, empowered poll watchers and scaled back ways to vote in Texas, which already has some of the nation’s strictest voting laws.
The bill seemed sure to reach Governor Greg Abbott’s desk only 24 hours earlier. The Texas Senate had signed off before sunrise earlier Sunday after Republicans, who hold an 18-13 majority in the chamber, used a bare-knuckle procedural move to suspend the rules and take up the measure in the middle of the night.
State Rep. Chris Turner, the Democratic House leader, said he sent a text message to members of his caucus at 10:35 p.m. telling them to leave the chamber. But by that point, the exodus was already well underway.
Abbott had declared new voting laws a priority in Texas, and quickly announced he would order a special session to finish the job. He called the failure of the bill “deeply disappointing” but did not say when he would drag lawmakers back to work.