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After Texas Democrats stage walkout to block voting bill, Abbott vows to defund state Legislature

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In a tweet on Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott said he would veto the article in the state budget that funds the legislative branch after Texas Democrats staged a walkout Sunday night and left the House floor, thereby missing the deadline to vote on Senate Bill 7.

SB7 is the controversial voting rights bill that opponents say will make it harder for people to vote and supporters call an "election integrity" bill.

State Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville) was one of the leaders in the walk-out. Dominguez says their first plan was to negotiate with Republicans, but that new changes in the bill forced them to change their plans.

"The senate added a number of amendments to it that we hadn't seen," Dominguez said. "They added about 25 extra pages."

Rep. Dominguez says one of these new measures mandated that every ballot be signed by wet ink, and would hurt certain people with disabilities who can't sign things.

An organizer with La Union Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) showed up at the Capitol to testify against the house bill version of this bill, but wasn't able to. He says SB7 would make his job assisting non-English speakers and the elderly, a felony.  

"We gather 80 to 100 people at a time that are LUPE members, first-time voters, and we caravan to a polling location," said Danny Diaz, a LUPE organizer. "And if they seek assistance from the organizers, we go in there and we take an oath that we're not going to vote for them, that we're just going to assist them in understanding the machine, and the ballot box; it in fact adds a third-degree felony."

But not all Republicans see it that way. Some say this is a fight to protect  the vote.

In a statement, Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan said the walk-out killed a number of bills that could have been voted on, like no-knock warrants and bail reform.

Texas Democrats are now urging U.S. Congress to pass federal voting policy that would protect the current voting system from any new voting restrictions the legislature may make later.

"It's also a statement for the White House," Dominguez said. "They really need to work on federal election policy, and get to it before our special."

Gov. Abbott has until June 20 to carry out his veto on legislative funding.

The session adjourned Monday, but Abbott has already gone on record saying he will call a special session to bring SB7 to a vote. He has not yet announced when that will be.

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