A group started by former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has given $600,000 to help fund the D.C. stay of the Texas Democrats who fled their state to deny Republicans a quorum in order to block restrictive voting measures from being passed during a special legislative session.
The money is being used for meals, transportation and lodging, according to a report in The Texas Tribune.
"We're gonna make sure that we get the full amount, 100% of what's raised, to y'all," O’Rourke, who ran for president in 2020, told the lawmakers. During a virtual conference Thursday morning "It is the least that we could do for everything that you all are doing for us. We want to do more."
The Texas Democrats are pushing lawmakers in Washington to pass sweeping laws that would make it harder for states to limit access to the ballot. The Texas bills – House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 – are part of a nationwide effort by Republicans to enact more restrictive voting laws following former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.
They include new ID requirements for people voting by mail and prohibit local election officials from sending vote-by-mail applications to someone who has not requested one. They also ban extended hours during early voting and drive-through voting.
Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, thanked O’Rourke and his team for the funds, which will also be used to help pay for costs associated with a virtual voting rights conference the Democratic caucus helped host this week.
''Grateful to Beto and all folks who have contributed to our efforts — many small donations have come in too,'' Walle said. ''We’re all working together to raise those resources. We’re not there yet, but that’s why we’re on the phones, making those calls.''
Two members of the delegation have returned to Austin from D.C. to negotiate with Republicans over the legislation.
"A small working group of Democrats decided to begin active discussions here in Austin on improving HB 3 and asked that I return to establish open communication lines," Rep. Philip Cortez said in a statement Thursday.
"I returned to Texas to try to engage in good-faith dialogue about the aspects of the bill that I, and others, think are harmful. We need to fight this battle on parallel tracks in Texas and Washington D.C. with one goal in mind: full and open access to voting for all Texans."
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