Vice President Kamala Harris announced Thursday she will meet with the Democratic state lawmakers who recently blocked Texas’ voting bill next week, but she wouldn’t indicate when she plans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border.
The vice president’s chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, announced that Harris’ meeting with Democratic members of the state’s legislature “who in May blocked passage of legislation that would have made it significantly harder for the people of Texas to vote” is set to take place at the White House on June 16. Although Harris committed to visiting the southern border on Tuesday after an extended period of criticism over the issue, she refused to provide a timeline for her visit during an exchange with a reporter on Thursday.
The proposed Texas voting law would reduce Sunday voting hours, impose new restrictions on mail-in ballot requests, ban drive-thru voting and empower partisan poll watchers. While Republicans insist the bill is focused on upholding “election integrity,” Democrats say that the bill is an attempt to increase “voter suppression.” The bill looked likely to pass Texas’ GOP-controlled legislature before Democrats walked out of the House chamber on May 30, effectively blocking the bill by denying a quorum required for a vote to take place just before a midnight deadline.
Harris will meet with seven Democratic members of the Texas House and three members of the Texas Senate next week. The details of what they will discuss are not entirely clear. However, Harris is leading President Joe Biden‘s efforts to pass the For the People Act, legislation that could invalidate bills like the one proposed in Texas, and there is little doubt that the vice president is not in favor of new voting restrictions.
“Texas House Democrats broke quorum to stop dangerous anti-voter legislation,” Texas Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, one of the Democrats who will meet with Harris, said in a statement. “Our state and country are better off when more people participate in our democracy. With everything on the line, we used every tactic in our arsenal — not just to preserve our state but to preserve our Democracy.
“Now, it’s time for Congress to act,” added Fischer. “They must pass voting rights legislation that protects the rights of all voters. We are deeply appreciative that Vice President Harris understands what is at stake and is leading the way to protect our democracy. We are honored to stand with her, Congressional Democrats, and the entire Biden Administration.”
Harris, who is also leading the Biden administration’s efforts to deal with the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, announced the meeting not long after returning from a two-day diplomatic visit to Guatemala and Mexico. The vice president received criticism from both ends of the political spectrum during the trip, with progressives denouncing her for telling would-be migrants that they should “not come” to the border and conservatives continuing to ask when she would make her own visit.
At a press conference in Mexico City on Tuesday, Harris said that she would personally visit the border, although she did not provide any specifics. When Univision anchor Ilia Calderón pressed Harris to announce a date for her visit on Thursday, the vice president responded by saying “I’ll keep you posted.”
Newsweek reached out to the office of Harris for comment.
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