Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two New Political Stars And A Raucous Crowd Combine To Defeat GOP's Insidious Attack On Choice In Texas

Texas Democrats have been a dispirited bunch for a long time now. It has been more than twenty years since a Democrat held statewide office, and prospects for the future seemed dim because there were really no politicians in the party with true statewide appeal. That changed dramatically on Tuesday night, when a couple of female State Senators put themselves in the limelight to stop an odious anti-choice bill that would have closed 37 out of 42 clinics in the state that do abortion procedures -- and in the process they inspired and renewed thousands of Democrats across the state.

The new Texas political stars are Sen. Wendy Davis and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (both are pictured in the top picture). Davis got the ball rolling by declaring she would filibuster the bill (which had to be approved by midnight, when the session ended, or it would die). She got the floor about 11:15am and began her filibuster -- and then she held the floor for over 10 hours. She was helped by the other 11 Democratic senators who lobbed her "softball" questions to keep her filibuster growing, but the real work of the filibuster was on her capable shoulders -- and she performed admirably.

With only a couple of hours to go before midnight, the Republican majority was able to stop her by claiming for the third time that she was not being germane to the bill with her discourse. It was not true, but truth or rules have never been very important to Texas Republicans. The the other 11 Democratic senators stepped forward with a barrage of parliamentary maneuvers (points of order, parliamentary questions, etc.).

One of the most prominent of these senators who sprang to the defense of Se. Davis was Sen. Van de Putte. And with only about 15 minutes until midnight, she challenges the senate president by demanding to know "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues". The crowd in the gallery began to applaud her, and that applause turned into more than twenty minutes of shouting and applauding that delayed a vote on the GOP bill.

With time running out, the GOP tried to hold their vote -- but as Democratic senators pointed out the vote was not finished before midnight, and by Texas law, the session was over at midnight. This caused a big mess -- as Republicans claimed the bill was passed since the vote started before midnight, and the Democrats claimed the bill was dead since the vote was not finished before midnight. And the official senate record backed Democrats, showing the bill was passed on 6/26 and not on 6/25 as required. The Republicans then tried to fix that by illegally altering the senate record (see below).

The top picture shows the original senate lot, and the bottom shows the log after being altered by Republicans. The senators then argued among themselves for a while -- and about 3am the Republicans backed down and admitted the bill had been passed after midnight, which means the bill was DEAD.

The governor may call another special session and get the bill passed (even if they have to lock the public out and do it in secret). But for right now, the bill is dead. And the Republicans did nothing good for their image, since their shenanigans were observed by hundreds of thousands of Texans and other Americans. I watched the proceedings on the Texas Tribune's live YouTube feed. More than 182,000 people watched on that feed, but that was just a portion of those watching the proceedings, since there were approximately 199 other live feeds -- not to mention all the traffic on social media like Twitter and Facebook.

And while the Republicans were humiliated, thousands of Texas Democrats (and others) were energized -- and Sen. Wendy Davis and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte were able to increase their political capital immensely. They are now both credible candidates for statewide office. And combined with the new statewide Democratic effort to register new voters, this means Democratic prospects in Texas are brighter than they have been in many years.

To put it bluntly, it was a great night for Texas Democrats and a terrible night for Texas Republicans.


NOTE -- Yesterday, the teabagger governor of Texas said he was calling a second special session of the Texas legislature. Three issues are on the agenda -- transportation funding and juvenile justice (both of which died in the last session because Republicans wasted the whole 30-day session trying to shut down the state's abortion clinics), and of course, the same old anti-choice legislation that was filibustered to death in that first session. He seems determined to keep the issue alive, and give Democrats something to make sure their supporters remain energized and engaged.

1 comment:

  1. TX Gov. Perry has called for a special session and whatever happens in this one will definitely put a serious negative spotlight on the state of TEXAS. They are escalating the "War on Women". I still say that all legislators, (in any state especially in Iowa where the Gov. now has final say on who can have an abortion and who can't), who craft laws that put restrictions on anything having to do with a woman's reproductive rights or any other women's health issues, are practicing medicine without a license and should be prosecuted. The first time a woman in Iowa dies because the Gov. refused to let her have a therapeutic abortion will highlight the insane intrusiveness into women's health issues and I hope it will result in the Governor's incarceration.


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