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A group of Texas Democrats known for recently running away from a legislative session in order to avoid the passage of a voting reform bill has decided to ignore threats of arrest upon return, electing to instead work on election reform federally.

The Democrats held a news conference near the Capitol Tuesday in defiance of ​Gov. Greg Abbott’s threat to have them arrested after fleeing a special session in the state legislature.

Nearly 60 Democrats in the state House of Representatives took private jets to DC without masks on Monday in order to deprive the chamber of a quorum and stop a vote on a series of election reforms that Republicans say will protect against election fraud. ​

State Representative Rafael Anchia claimed Democrats are willing to work on bipartisan proposals but that their amendments to the election legislation were rejected immediately.

“In fact​,​ ​we’re sad for democracy in the state of Texas. And we took a solemn oath to protect the Constitution of the United States and to protect the Constitution of the State of Texas, and that is why we stand united before you here today in preserving, not only the democracy in Texas but the democracy of the United States​,” he said at a news conference. ​​

Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) warned that time was running out for Democrats to pass new federal election bills because Republican-led states have already or are in the process of passing voting reform bills.

“​I just want Greg Abbott and Republican leaders in Texas, Florida, Georgia, and anywhere else to know that we are not going to stop. We are always going to push back against these sort of bigoted, racist, Jim Crow 2.0-style voting laws whenever you decide to bring them up,” Veasey said. 

Veasey did not offer an explanation as to how the stricter voting reforms were racist. The proposed bills are race-neutral by definition, making no distinction in voter requirements based on race or skin color.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Republicans decried the Democrats’ stunt, saying they were cowering away from their jobs by taking a chartered vacation to DC.

“Isn’t this the most un-Texan thing you’ve ever heard — Texans running from a fight? They’re quitters,” Abbott, a Republican, said on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

Republicans say the voting reforms which among other things end 24-hour polling places, ban ballot drop boxes, and empower poll watchers — are designed to ensure the integrity of the vote by helping prevent voter fraud.​

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