Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Thursday called a new special session of the Texas Legislature that is set to begin on Saturday, a swift move that puts pressure on Democratic lawmakers who left the state for Washington last month to block the passage of a major Republican bill overhauling Texas elections.
The current special session is set to expire on Friday, but Mr. Abbott issued his call a day early. With the Democrats’ absence from the state House of Representatives denying the chamber a quorum, the Legislature has been unable to pass any new laws. Mr. Abbott has vowed to call as many special sessions as required to pass the elections bill and other conservative priorities.
“The Texas Legislature achieved a great deal during the 87th Legislative Session, and they have a responsibility to finish the work that was started,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement. “I will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity, and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve.”
The agenda for the latest special session remains largely the same; in addition to a new voting bill, Mr. Abbott is calling on the Legislature to pass laws that would restrict the rights of transgender student athletes, limit the ways that students are taught about racism, add additional border security, further limit access to abortion and crack down on perceived censorship of conservatives by social media companies, among other proposals.
The governor did add one new priority to his list of 17 agenda items — “Legislation relating to legislative quorum requirements” — thought it was unclear what that might mean.
Mr. Abbott will also call state lawmakers to address his veto of funding for the Legislature, which has put the salaries and benefits of hundreds of staff members who work in the Statehouse in jeopardy. Mr. Abbott vetoed the funding this year as a punishment for the Democrats’ late-night walkout of the original legislative session to prevent a voting bill from passing.
The new special session presents a new fork in the road for the Texas Democrats who have been staying in Washington for the past 24 days, trying to pressure President Biden and leading Democrats in Congress to push for federal legislation to protect voting rights. In recent days, with the end of the first special session approaching, the Democrats have weighed whether to return home or remain in the nation’s capital.
They currently have an event scheduled for Friday outside the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill to “address their victory in killing the Texas Republicans’ anti-voter measures back home.”