Texas senators call them shirkers. The Dems accuse them of enabling Trump and his ‘big lie’ about election fraud.
WASHINGTON — Democrats who fled Austin to halt action in the Texas House on elections legislation are imploring the U.S. Senate to adopt federal protections on voting rights.
But they’re getting no sympathy from their home state senators, nor giving any.
“Work? You are shirking your responsibility in Austin for a boondoggle in DC,” Cornyn tweeted at state Sen. Royce West of Dallas, one of nine Democratic senators who joined state House colleagues in Washington.
On Fox News, Cruz mocked the Texas Democrats, whom Vice President Kamala Harris lauded as latter-day civil rights heroes.
“Last I checked, the heroic civil rights protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge [in Selma] were not in a private chartered jet. They didn’t have a case of Miller Lite next to them,” he said. “These are partisan Democrats playing a political stunt.”
The Democrats accuse Cornyn of enabling Donald Trump’s “big lie” about election fraud, and ducking a meeting to talk through proposals to reinstate federal oversight of states like Texas with a history of discrimination. The Supreme Court ended decades of Justice Department scrutiny in 2013.
“Their voices are important, and it’d be important for Senator Cruz and Cornyn and Governor Abbott for that matter, to tell Republicans that it is a lie that there was widespread voter fraud and that somehow the election was stolen from Donald Trump,” Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic caucus, said Wednesday. “If they were real leaders, that’s what they would do, but so far, they’ve been quiet, and they’re not willing to tell the truth to their supporters.”
Cruz led an effort to overturn the election when Congress met Jan. 6 to ratify the state-certified Electoral College results that showed a clear win for President Joe Biden. Cornyn voted to ratify those results.
Both strongly oppose Democratic proposals in Congress that Republicans say would nationalize election rules, stripping states’ ability to control fraud and reassure voters about the integrity of elections.
On Tuesday, Cornyn delivered a blistering speech on the Senate floor denouncing the Democrats for abandoned their duties in the Legislature. Asked afterwards if he would meet with the Texas Democrats he quipped: “Not if I can help it.”
His slap at West came in response to a tweet from the Democrat: “Headed to the US Capitol with my Texas democratic colleagues, Senators Johnson and Gutierrez, to urge Congress to pass voting rights laws. Yes, a full day of meaningful work ahead.”
In fact, Cornyn did have a brief interaction with some of the runaways, at a Judiciary subcommittee hearing on voting rights on Wednesday afternoon.
“I wish y’all were back home,” he told state Reps. Jessica González of Dallas, Ann Johnson of Houston, Sheryl Cole of Austin and Ray Lopez of San Antonio.
“We want to be back there, too, but we want to be back there for the business of the people of Texas, not to allow them to steamroll and take away the freedom to vote,” Johnson replied.
She’s be perfectly happy to stay in Austin for a special session to address gun violence, the power grid, lack of health coverage and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“We all have families and we have homes and we have jobs that actually pay our bills,” Gonzalez said.
Washington correspondent Emily Caldwell contributed to this report.