EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A coterie of former Democratic officials, non-profit organizations and more gathered at Tom Lea Park on Wednesday morning in support of the Democratic members of the Texas Legislature who remain in Washington, D.C., after breaking quorum last week to prevent voting during a special session on a controversial voting bill.
“For Abraham Lincoln, Benito Juarez and Kamala Harris, voting was and is a sacred right — a big, big, right. For each of us, it’s a sacred duty,” said former Texas State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh.
He was joined by fellow former Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez, as well as the El Paso League of Women Voters, the Border Network for Human Rights, Sunrise El Paso and more.
Each member of the coalition expressed their support of the Democrat’s decision to flee to Washington, D.C., but it remains unclear whether either party has yet to land on any potential bipartisan solutions.
Oscar J. Martinez, a retired Border Scholar from El Paso, spoke at the event, where he implored members of the business community to pick a side.
”My concern is with the local business community. Where is our local business community when it comes to this issue?” he asked.
KTSM 9 News spoke with Cindy Ramos Davidson, CEO of the EPHCC, who reiterated its position.
“Many of our business owners today feel that there are so many other issues that are affecting our state from education to health care to business to child care — mostly child care — that our focus needs to be on how to better do that so we can better educate the marketplace about what is fair and equitable at all different levels,” said Davidson.
State Sen. Cesar J. Blanco supports the Democrats and says that Republicans failed to negotiate in good faith early on in the legislative session, which has contributed to the discord.
“Earlier this month, hundreds of Texans came to Austin to testify against S.B. 1. After hours and hours of compelling testimony against S.B. 1, Republicans still refused to take the real concerns of witnesses seriously and indicated they would ram through yet another voter suppression bill again,” Blanco wrote in a statement to KTSM.
Chris Walker, director of Regional Communications for the GOP, told KTSM that the party wants their colleagues across the aisle to get back to Austin and back to work.
“They’re not leading, they’re not doing their jobs,” said Walker. “They’re hiding in Washington — spreading coronavirus in the process of being there — rather than doing what the people of Texas elected them to do.”