(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden stepped into the contentious debate over new voting laws as Democrats from Texas have gathered in Washington, D.C. in the latest installment of political infighting over state voter regulations.
Biden spoke in Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon, attacking Republicans around the country who have passed legislation to shore up elections. The flurry of voting laws comes in response to questions over the integrity of the 2020 election, where extended mail-in ballot windows and delays in vote counting plagued localities.
"Have you no shame?" Biden said, speaking to Republican legislatures.
“This isn't about Democrats or Republicans. It's literally about who we are as Americans. It's that basic," he added. "It's about the kind of country we want today. Hear me clearly. There's an unfolding assault taking place in America today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections, an assault on Democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are as Americans."
His comments come after nearly 70 Texas Democrats fled their home state this week. They are staying in the nation’s capital to avoid voting on Texas legislation aimed at preventing voter fraud.
The move sparked major controversy and backlash from Republicans, who accused the Democrats of failing to do their duty for voters. Republicans have argued the voter law changes are basic security measures that Democrats are dramatizing for political purposes and fundraising.
“The Texas Democrats who have pulled this political stunt by flying to Washington, D.C. almost surely had to show ID to get on their jet, yet they’re throwing a fit because they don’t want basic election integrity steps strengthened in Texas,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded Tuesday saying the Democratic members would be arrested and brought to the state Capitol for a vote when they arrived in Texas.
“Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas capital and we will be conducting business,” Abbott said. “Texans oppose walkouts to avoid votes," Abbott said. "No one else gets paid to walk off their job. Quitters never win. We will continue successive Special Sessions until elected representatives do what they were elected to do – debate issues and cast votes.”
The NAACP responded to Abbott offering to pay bail for any arrested members.
The Texas members have become the center of an ongoing debate over state voting laws.
Biden addressed these developments in his speech Tuesday and spoke about foreign interference in the election.
"We got to shore up our election system and address the threats to election subversion not just from abroad, which I spent time with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin talking about, but from home,” Biden said. “From home, we must ask those who represent us at the federal, state, local level, ‘Will you ignore the will of the people? Will you ignore their voices? Are you on the side of truth or lies, fact or fiction, justice or injustice? Democracy or autocracy?’ That's what it comes down to."
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s changes to election rules, bolstering Republicans’ arguments.
“In light of the principles set out above, neither Arizona’s out-of-precinct rule nor its ballot-collection law violates ... the [Voting Rights Act],” Justice Samuel Alito said in the court’s majority opinion. “Having to identify one’s own polling place and then travel there to vote does not exceed the ‘usual burdens of voting.’”