Gov. Greg Abbott has called a second special session of the Texas legislature for this weekend, adding six issues to his wish list despite the fact that nothing can pass if House Democrats remain out of state. The agenda now has 17 items, including the election measure that led the Democrats to flee last month, preventing a quorum, the Texas Tribune reports. Other measures concern spending federal COVID-19 relief money, blocking mask and vaccination mandates in schools—and changing the rules on legislative quorums. Abbott wants the session to start at noon Saturday, 12 hours after the current session ends, per CNN. "I will continue to call special session after special session to reform our broken bail system, uphold election integrity and pass other important items that Texans demand and deserve," Abbott said in a statement.
The Democrats are still in Washington, trying to build support for federal voting rights legislation that could override any restrictions that Texas might enact. They've met with fellow Democrats including Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. On Thursday, they were critical of Abbott's choice of issues to put on the agenda, which also include abortion-inducing drugs, critical race theory, and basing whether students can participate in sports on their gender at birth, per KXAN. Democratic Rep. James Talarico said he'd be happy to return and work on a list of the state's serious problems. "But instead, Governor Abbott has announced a special session that is filled with conspiracy theories, conspiracy theories about stolen elections, conspiracy theories about trans children, conspiracy theories about critical race theory," he said. (Read more Texas stories.)