Texas house Democrats on walkout: ‘We are doing our jobs’

“It is within the rules of the house that we can break quorum. This is a rule, a procedure, created to protect the minority. This is a rule created to do exactly what we’re doing now.”
Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 6:02 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KBTX) - “Very important to say this: We are doing our jobs.”

That’s what District 137 Representative Gene Wu said of his party’s decision to walk out on the state’s special legislative session this week.

Texas State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, dean of the Texas House of Representatives, speaks as...
Texas State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, dean of the Texas House of Representatives, speaks as Democratic members of the Texas legislature hold a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. The Democrats left Austin to deprive the Legislature of a quorum as they try to kill a Republican bill making it harder to vote in the Lone Star State. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(J. Scott Applewhite | AP)

“We don’t take this lightly,” Wu explained, “this is not a small thing that we’re doing over and over is some petty politics.”

He said every Texan in Washington, D.C. is there on their own dime. Wu said no taxpayer money has been used for the walkout.

“We’re using our own money because we’re using money that the caucus has raised,” Wu said. “We’re using money that we’ve donated to the caucus. We’re using our own funds for this. This is our money. This is money that we raised, this is money from our own pockets. When I pay my mortgage next month, and I don’t know how I’m gonna do that because I’m not working, it’s gonna come out of my pocket, the taxpayers are not paying for this.”

State representatives can earn a maximum of $38,140 a year in years with legislative sessions. But the Democrats that walked out are not being paid. Most of these representatives have other jobs to supplement their income. In non-legislative session years, the maximum salary they can earn is $7,200. But Wu said it’s worth foregoing both the salary from the state and their side jobs to protect freedoms for all Texans.

“We’re not just protecting our constituents. We’re not just protecting Democrats. We’re protecting Republicans too because there’s things in this bill that they may not understand that affects how Republicans vote, and how they can be counted,” Wu said. “We’re trying to make sure all Texans are protected in their right, their right to vote, and the rights that we’ve spent 50 years... blood... sweat... and tears... fighting for as Americans.”

Wu said he and his fellow Democrats in the state house want to negotiate this bill with Republicans. Our local Rep. Kyle Kacal said he wants that too. But Wu said state Republican leaders refuse to budge.

“When [house Democrats] saw what happened during the hearing when this bill was being laid out, and over 24 hours of testimony, almost ten to one in opposition, pointing out the numerous issues for different communities that this bill would impose, instead of doing what [Republicans] said, which is make compromises take suggestions, and just work on some of the issues that affect the various communities in Texas, they just voted out all the compromises,” said Wu.

“All the offers or compromises, all the promises, were just for nothing.”

Abbott said as much in a press conference Tuesday night saying, “there’s really no reason to engage in negotiations.”

Wu said Democrats are ready to negotiate whenever their Republican colleagues are. He said he and his fellow Democrats in Washington, D.C. want desperately to come home.

“I’m missing my family. There’s people here who’re about to have babies. People here missing their weddings. This is not fun for us, and we want everyone to understand how serious this is that we would go to this measure to make sure that this bill doesn’t pass,” said Wu. “We’re trying to protect the voting rights of millions and millions of Texans.”

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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