KEY POINTS

  • House Democrats walked out of the chamber to prevent a final vote on Senate Bill 7
  • The new bill would impose restrictions on mail-in ballots and drive-through voting
  • Abbott said he plans to call a special session to discuss the voting bill soon

Gov. Greg Abbot, R-Texas, on Monday threatened to suspend pay for the state’s lawmakers after House Democrats staged a walkout to prevent Republicans from passing a restrictive voting bill. 

A large group of Texas Democrats walked out of the House chamber Sunday to prevent a final vote on Senate Bill 7 before a midnight deadline. 

The measure, considered to be "one of the most restrictive voting laws in the United States," would ban after-house voting, ballot drop boxes, and drive-through voting. It would also require voters requesting absentee ballots to provide their driver’s license number or Social Security number on their request for a ballot and return envelope. 

Senate Bill 7 would also make it a felony offense for election officials to send absentee ballot applications to voters who did not request it, even if they are eligible to vote absentee. 

The walkout prompted Gov. Abbott to threaten to veto Article 10 of the state budget, which funds the Legislature. “I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned,” he tweeted. 

Under the state’s constitution, the governor can veto line items in state budgets. This means Abbott has the power to remove funding for the Legislature.

The walkout killed any chances of the bill being passed. As the Texas Legislature meets every two years for 140 days, Republicans would not be able to bring the voting bill up for a vote until 2023. "We've said for so many years that we want more people to participate in our democracy. And it just seems that's not the case," Rep. Carl Sherman, D-Texas, said

However, Texas Constitution states that the governor can call a special session. Abbot said that he plans to order the lawmakers back to the state Capitol for a special session, but is yet to reveal a specific date. 

“Election Integrity & Bail Reform were emergency items for this legislative session. They STILL must pass. They will be added to the special session agenda. Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session,” Abbot wrote on Twitter. 

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas targeted Sanctuary city law with a new law Photo: REUTERS/Mike Stone