On Thursday, one of the Texas Democrats who ran away in the middle of a legislative session in order to stall a GOP-sponsored voting bill, spoke out on the heroism of her group’s actions. Erin Zwiener told reporters, “I think by taking this step, by taking the Republicans’ ball away, we have inspired people all across the state of Texas. We have fought back using the biggest tool we have as a minority party. So I’m proud of that.”
Perhaps someone in her audience might have asked her to name that “big tool” because one name by which it’s known is filibuster. Yes, historically filibusters, which are sometimes referred to as “talking a bill to death” or “talking out a bill,” have taken the form of marathon speechifying. But there are other means by which members of a political party can obstruct a vote or other legislative procedure. Fleeing the state, for example.
In a post titled “This Is What a Real Filibuster Looks Like,” which is sympathetic to the Democrats’ plight, Mother Jones’s Tim Murphy writes “Filibusters used to involve a lot of talking, but senators do not have to go through that charade anymore — in fact, the legislative filibuster as it’s deployed today can be a vote against talking, as it prevents the chamber from moving on to debate. It’s as simple as 41 senators objecting.” Or 56 state representatives.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directly addressed the Democrats’ hypocrisy in running out on the vote. In the video that follows, he observes that “one thing that Democrats from Texas are trying to achieve in Washington, D.C., they are trying to get the United States Senate to drop their filibuster rule. Well, think about this. What the Texas Democrats are doing, they’re filibustering in Texas to try to get the Washington, D.C. Democrats to stop the filibuster rule.”