WASHINGTON (KXAN) — Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, spoke with KXAN News Today anchors Tom Miller and Sally Hernandez Tuesday morning and clarified how exactly Texas Democrats are paying for their walkout trip to Washington, D.C.
House and Senate Democrats walked out on the Texas Legislature’s special session Monday in protest to a GOP-backed bill that would change election laws in Texas, and the biggest question many people had is who is footing the bill for the 3-week stay until the session expires.
“We’re doing it the old-fashioned way,” Talarico said. “We’re fundraising this ourselves. This is paid for by the Democratic caucus, which means we’ve got to raise money through events, through small donations.”
Talarico said the party raised more than $100,000 on Monday from “regular Texans who donated $5, $10, $20 to make this happen.”
“This is a true grassroots movement,” he said.
While Republicans who support the bill refer to it as an “election integrity” bill, Talarico characterized it as “voter suppression,” and he said Democrats are in Washington to demand Congress take action on voting rights at a federal level.
“This trip is trying to convince our federal lawmakers from both political parties to come together and take action to ensure that voter suppression bills like the ones Gov. Greg Abbott and Republicans in Austin are trying to push through never get to the finish line,” Talarico said.
Abbott issued a response to the walkout Monday, saying in part it “inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve.”
“Democrats must get back to the job they were elected to do,” Abbott said via Twitter. “Their constituents must not be denied important resources simply because their elected representatives refused to show up to work.”
Other Texas Republicans have called the walkout “shameful” and a “disgrace to democracy,” but Talarico rebutted saying “wasting time is a Republican specialty.”
“We’re standing up for our constituents, and standing up for the millions of Texans who could lose their freedom to vote if this voter suppression bill passes,” Talarico said. “I left the greatest state in the Union to come here, and the only reason I’d do that is because I believe in our democracy in Texas, and I want to do everything I can to protect it for future generations.”