Vice President Kamala Harris was admitted to Washington, D.C.’s famous Walter Reed hospital on Sunday — and the timing raised eyebrows.
The White House said Harris’ trip to the hospital was part of a “routine doctor’s appointment.”
But critics noted the timing was curious. Harris was taken to the hospital just after she met with Texas state Democrats that had fled the state to stall the vote on a voting integrity bill championed by Lone Star state Republicans.
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Just before Harris was admitted to Walter Reed, it was announced that the Texas Democrats she had met with have experienced an outbreak of COVID-19.
Harris’ spokeswoman Symone Sanders said the vice president was never in close contact with any of the five Texan lawmakers that later tested positive for coronavirus, and noted she had been fully vaccinated.
“Based on the timeline of these positive tests, it was determined the Vice President and her staff present at the meeting were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive and therefore do not need to be tested or quarantined,” Sanders said.
As Texas Democrats enter the second week of their holdout on Monday, they are continuing their mainstream media blitz with a town hall on cable news and meetings with members of Congress. To run out the clock on the GOP’s sweeping elections bill back home, Democrats must stay out of Texas for 19 more days, at which point Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says he will immediately call another special session to try for a third time to pass the measure.
Nationwide, younger progressives are pushing their party to take a more aggressive stance as the GOP implements a far-reaching conservative agenda after President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection in November.
“They tend to be a little more combative,” said Rice University professor Mark Jones, a political scientist who has scored Texas lawmakers’ partisanship since 2009. “The older style would have been to have worked this out behind the scenes. The younger style is more to make it public and make it more of a protest movement.”
Jones is skeptical that it helps Democrats’ quest to flip America’s biggest red state in the long run.
“It’s inextricably linked Texas Democrats to national Democrats, who are quite unpopular in Texas,” he said.
The demographics of the Texas Legislature haven’t much changed with the arrival of younger Democrats. White candidates in 2018 flipped most of the dozen, mainly suburban seats Democrats picked up in the House, where Republicans have an 83-67 majority.
The scramble to leave Austin under the threat of arrest came as Democrats remain stumped by a riddle they have not cracked in 27 years: how to win a statewide race in Texas. Even now, less than a year before the 2022 primary elections, Democrats still have no candidate for governor. They are waiting for an answer from former congressman Beto O’Rourke, but if he doesn’t run, there is but one other prominent figure flirting with a challenge to Abbott — actor Matthew McConaughey. It’s unclear what, if any, party McConaughey would run under.
In Texas, Democrats are fond of looking to Georgia, where Black leaders and progressives mobilized voters and helped flip one of America’s most reliably red states in November. But Texas Democrats also have a poor track record of prediction, seldom more glaring than last year when massive expectations foundered, including a failure to pick up additional statehouse seats that would have bolstered their chances of stopping or weakening a voting bill.
Instead, the results emboldened Texas Republicans, who came away seeing new opportunities with Latinos. Of the Texas Democrats who stayed behind, several are from districts on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Republicans call it a fight that Democrats will inevitably lose.
“For many years there was a distinction, I think, between Texas government and D.C.,” Republican state Rep. Mayes Middleton said. “And unfortunately … this younger side of the caucus is pulling the Texas Legislature more towards the direction of D.C. where you have this division.”
The GOP’s voting integrity bill in Texas would ban 24-hour polling places, prohibit ballot drop boxes and empower partisan poll watchers.
Republicans are continuing to show up at the state Capitol, even though they can’t pass any laws, calling the bills important safeguards that have nothing to do with Trump’s loss to Democrat Joe Biden last year.
The five Democrats that tested positive for the coronavirus remain largely anonymous. Harris’ office did not respond to Fox News’ inquires on whether the vice president was experiencing symptoms.
Laws — like masking on a plane — exist for a reason. Very disturbed by this reckless behavior, which happened in the process of subverting democracy. Everyone remember the day July 12. https://t.co/lU8l4iCACM
— Joe Gabriel Simonson (@SaysSimonson) July 17, 2021
The Associated Press contributed to this article