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Rep. Raney on Texas House Dems walkout: “It was an avenue that they had. They chose to take it.”

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 10:40 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - About an hour before a deadline, Texas Democrats staged a walkout from the floor of the House late Sunday night in an effort to block a controversial voting bill.

It forced the House to adjourn its session, effectively ending the 87th Texas Legislature in a dramatic fashion. Rep. John Raney (R-District 14) said of the move, “It was an avenue that they had. They chose to take it.”

“I think that we’re here to do our work,” Raney said. “I assume that they did what they thought was right. It was a maneuver that was available to them to keep us from passing that voter’s bill. I would rather meet those things head-on and vote them up or down. That would be my choice.”

Democrats staged the walkout in response to Senate Bill 7, which would create new limitations on early voting hours, dial back certain local voting options, and increase restrictions on mail-in ballots. Democrats call it an assault on democracy. Republicans said the changes are needed to prevent voter fraud.

“I think we need to divide it up and take it in smaller bites and see how each bite stands on its own,” Raney said. “I think that would be a way to pass the elements that all people can agree to.”

Raney says the House Democrats’ move Sunday night could be productive in doing exactly that.

“It may be possible that we would kind of shrink that bill down and maybe do some things that would protect the mail-in ballot and ensure its authenticity,” Raney said. “For the most part in Brazos County, I think we have good, fair, and clean elections.”

Raney says he probably would have voted yes on the bill had one been called.

“I think the most important thing is the security of that mail-in ballot. If that were all that was on there, I’d be happy,” Raney said. “Who cares if we vote two hours earlier or later on Sunday. I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference one way or the other. I’m for people being allowed to vote. I think they need to be encouraged to vote. The mail-in ballot is the area that seems to be more suspect than any other, and voter harvesting is one thing that people are concerned about.”

Gov. Greg Abbott has already said this issue will be added to a special session he’s expected to call later in the year. Raney says the two parties need to get back to the negotiating table.

“I think we need to sit down and talk together and find out what we agree on if there is anything we can agree on, and let’s work on those things,” Raney said. “To continue this bickering back and forth, it makes it divisive on every area, not just this particular one.”

On Monday, Gov. Abbott said he would veto a line item in the budget that pays lawmakers for their work. He essentially said if they’re not going to show up and do their job, they don’t deserve to be paid for it.

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