Sen. Wendy Davis Filibuster Defeat Prompts Texas Abortion Bill To Return To Legislature

Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster defeat of the Texas abortion bill in Senate on Tuesday temporarily delayed the bill’s passage, and the state legislature will return to vote on Senate Bill 5 on Monday. Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered another special session of the legislature to vote on the abortion bill, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks and add other restrictions that opponents say would close 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics, and several other proposed bills.

Sen. Davis', D-Fort Worth, filibuster lasted for over 12 1/2 hours and, while she did not debate the bill until the midnight deadline of the special session of the legislature, she did delay the vote long enough to prevent the bill’s passage into law. Immediately following the end of the special session, Gov. Perry ordered another special session, adding on Twitter that juvenile sentencing and fixing roads were among the priorities for the legislature’s session, set for July 1.

Unfinished business for #txlege. Let’s protect women & the unborn, fund roads, fix juvenile sentencing . See y’all back at work July 1.

 

In the wake of the raucous end to the last special session, there will be some changes to ensure order, reports the Associated Press. Hundreds of opponents of the abortion bill gathered outside, and in the public gallery, of the legislature during the previous special session, but added security may prevent a similar scene on July 1. The Texas Department of Public Safety did not discuss specific plans but spokesperson Katherine Cesinger said, “However, when necessary, we will adjust our security measures as a situation merits,” notes AP.

The shortened week may not lead to much excitement, but following the Fourth of July weekend, the Texas Senate may apply some of the lessons learned from the previous session to the second round of voting on the abortion bill. Any bill passed by the House must wait 24 hours before the Senate can vote for it, and since the abortion bill was passed on Monday, and not Sunday, the Senate had to wait until Tuesday to vote. Democrats were able to block an early vote on the bill and, because of the midnight delay on Tuesday, the filibuster would need to last only 13 hours to be successful.

Lt. Gov David Dewhurst, who oversees the Senate, believes Republicans in the House will act much more quickly to have the abortion bill in front of the Senate to prevent another deadline scare. The House would still need to submit bills and have committee meetings to discuss and vote on the proposals prior to sending them to the House. The special session could see the introduction of other bills, including one that would add restrictions to abortion drugs, such as RU-486, by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, reports AP.  With an added sense of urgency, Democrats may not be able to use stall tactics against the Republicans, who own a majority in the House and Senate. Sen. Davis has not commented on the upcoming special session.

The end of the filibuster, which included a heated debate between senators, a vocal protest from opponents of the abortion bill and a closed-door meeting of that lasted until 3 a.m., featured plenty of controversy. The changing timestamp, indicating the recording vote occurring on 06/26 but later changed to reflect a vote on 06/25, remains an unresolved mystery.

The timestamp was changed to indicate the vote occurring prior to the midnight deadline of the special session, which would have allowed the bill to become law. Republican senators conceded defeat following the closed-door meeting. In Sen. Davis’ interview with Anderson Cooper for CNN, she said she believed the timestamp change was intentional, saying, “I think there will be further investigation.”

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