By ROYCE WEST
Although some may question why the Texas Legislature is days away from the start of a special called session, some know the ground was made fertile when the votes were counted from the November 2020 Elections. One could say outcomes of Texas legislative races at least resemble what took place in Congress.
Democrats gained three seats in the U.S. Senate. With an effective 50-50 total in both caucuses, gridlock remains. Democrats picked up two seats in the Texas Senate, but saw the goal line again move to guarantee success on controversial and partisan issues for the majority party.
In Congress, House Democrats lost seats won in 2018, but held their chamber majority. But hopes of Democrats picking up enough seats to control the Texas House were dashed when no additional seats were gained. With Republican rule of both chambers, Democrats lack the muscle to force compromise. And without a clear majority in the U.S. Senate, the minority party leader resumes and redesigns methods used to obstruct the agenda of former President Barack Obama.
One of the powers of the United States president is to nominate members to the Supreme Court. Republicans have appointed six of nine sitting justices. We later saw how the then-Republican Senate Majority Leader unabashedly reversed the position on presidential nominations used when he blocked Obama’s final chance to narrow the Court’s majority.
Those of us who opposed SB7 – the most recent Republican effort to protect election security as they say, or further suppress votes as Democrats say – again missed an opportunity to make sure they are not successful. Apparently, the fix is easier said than done. Win more elections! Only we can come to our own rescue. Because no one else can save us.
SB7 is based on a defeated former president’s false claim that the 2020 Election was stolen. As is too often, it passed the Texas Senate by the vote of 18 Republicans to 13 Democrats. The Texas Senate can’t save us.
Texas House Democrats dramatically broke quorum on May 30, the eve of the final day of the 87th Session, to at least temporarily kill SB7. I said temporarily, because a similar bill will be the agenda’s headliner when we reconvene in Austin days from now. The Texas House can’t save us.
The U.S. House alone can’t save us. They’ve already approved HR 1 – the For the People Act, which would among provisions, prohibit gerrymandering by ordering an independent commission and stop voter rolls from being purged within six months of an election.
On a moment’s notice, Speaker Nancy Pelosi would garner the votes to again pass HR 4 – the John Lewis Voting Rights Act that would restore sections of the Voting Rights Act that were rendered nil by the Supreme Court in it’s 2013 Shelby v. Holder ruling, which declared the formula used to enforce preclearance of election changes was outdated. (Which also means the U.S. Supreme Court won’t save us.)
Current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took typical pleasure in blocking test votes for HR 1. It and HR 4 are locked away, wherever he dooms all Democrat initiatives to remain. I had to shake my head when McConnell borrowed a line to tell reporters that the two federal voting rights bills are, “a solution in search of a problem.” As comprised, the U.S. Senate can’t save us!
Despite the fact that the outgoing Texas Secretary of State, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and former protector of the former president, former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr – all echoed that the 2020 Election was “the most secure in American history” and free of any massive voter fraud effort, SB7 is part of a coordinated national effort by Republicans to maintain power.
I have said repeatedly that elections have consequences. For Democratic elected officials and voters who believe in democratic values, the consequences of not winning elections will continue to be evidenced if too many who are negatively impacted by the actions of Republicans do not turn out to vote. No one else will save us – but us!
Sen. Royce Barry West is a member of the Texas Senate representing the Dallas-based 23rd District.