At least 51 Texas Democratic lawmakers left the state on chartered flights Monday afternoon in a bid to block Republican-led voting restrictions. “Today, Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote," Democratic leaders wrote in a statement. By leaving the state, Democrats have likely forced the delay of sweeping legislation working its way through a special legislative session that would tighten voting laws. Under the Texas Constitution, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present to do state business. But while the mass exodus may delay the bill’s passage, Gov. Greg Abbott could keep calling special sessions throughout the summer until the legislation is passed.
The lawmakers in the state House of Representatives were en route to Washington, D.C., on Monday evening, with no set return date, according to the Texas Tribune. A similar move was last attempted in 2003, when dozens of Democrats fled to New Mexico to block redistricting legislation by the state’s GOP majority. State Democrats already successfully derailed election legislation last month by walking out of the Texas Capitol, the Houston Chronicle reports.