AUSTIN, Texas — Thursday evening, Texas Republicans’ anti-voter House Bill 6 (HB 6) is up for debate and a floor vote in the Texas House. The bill is set to be combined with anti-voter Senate Bill 7 (SB 7) behind closed doors through the reliably shady dealings of Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park). HB 6 is part of a racist, coordinated Republican attack on voting rights and aims to resurrect the voter intimidation of the Jim Crow era.
Republicans are pushing HB 6/SB 7 forward despite condemnation from every corner, including Texas communities, voting rights leaders, civil rights advocates, and Democrats — as well as an impressive coalition of corporations and businesses. These companies include heavy-hitters with considerable leverage to affect the Texas economy, including major tech companies and the United States’ largest airline. As such, Republicans have managed to not only attack our right to vote and encourage flagrant civil rights offenses, but also to threaten our economy in the process. This week’s Throwback Thursday is a brief retrospective on the businesses that have come out on the side of voting rights and democracy over the last few months:
From the Houston Chronicle:
“A group of 175 business leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Dade Phelan Tuesday morning [May 4] opposing several key provisions of the voting bills being debated in the Texas Legislature, which they said would add unacceptable barriers for Houston-area residents to cast a ballot…. ‘These provisions, among others, will inevitably damage our competitiveness in attracting businesses and workers to Houston,’ the letter states. ‘Especially as we aim to attract major conferences and sporting events, including the FIFA World Cup, voter suppression is a stain on our reputation that could cost our region millions of dollars.’”
From the Texas Tribune:
“With less than a month left in the legislative session — and Texas Republicans split on which package of proposals might cross the finish line — HP, Microsoft, Unilever, Patagonia and two dozen other companies are urging state lawmakers not to pass new restrictions on voting.… ‘We urge business and civic leaders to join us as we call upon lawmakers to uphold our ever elusive core democratic principle: equality. By supporting a stronger trustworthy democracy, we will elevate our economy.’”
“American [Airlines]’s opposition to the passage of Senate Bill 7 is unequivocal. ‘Earlier this morning, the Texas State Senate passed legislation with provisions that limit voting access. To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it,’ said the airline in a short statement.… American Airlines is not the only Texas-based carrier weighing in. In an email to Forbes, a spokesperson for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines wrote, ‘The right to vote is foundational to our democracy and a right coveted by all. We believe every voter should have a fair opportunity to let their voice be heard. This right is essential to our nation’s success.’ Southwest is the nation’s third-largest carrier by passengers carried and the world’s largest low-cost carrier.”
“Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell announced his company’s opposition to House Bill 6, which legislators are still in the process of approving. The bill aims to prohibit local election officials from sending out mail-in ballot applications, among other provisions. In a tweet Thursday [April 1], Dell said, ‘Free, fair, equitable access to voting is the foundation of American democracy. Those rights — especially for women, communities of color — have been hard-earned.’”
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Republicans’ anti-voter bills are so outlandishly harmful that they’ve managed to rally a massive coalition in opposition to them. I am grateful to advocates and our Democratic legislators for their tireless work to defend voting rights against these attacks, and I commend the business leaders and companies that have spoken out on the side of democracy.
“If the Texas House passes HB 6/SB 7 today, every Republican who votes ‘yes’ will wear the stain of this infamous decision. Republicans are so desperate to cling on to power that they are willing to resurrect Jim Crow to do so. If Republican politicians can only hold onto power by destroying our democracy, then it’s abundantly clear that their time at the helm is up. Democrats have fought these racist bills from the moment they were filed. We’re fighting them at the Capitol today, and we’re prepared to fight them in court.”