Turn the volume all the way up, because that's how it sounded on the livestream.
Behold, bold Texas Democrats standing for the will of the people. I'll cut straight to the chase and tell you that SB5, the draconian Texas abortion bill that would have closed all but 5 abortion clinics in Texas is dead -- at least for now, though it will be a zombie that rises up if Gov. Rick Perry calls yet another special session.
You can stop there if you want, but if you do, you'll miss all the fun.
About 11 hours into Davis' 13-hour filibuster, Texas Republicans, aided by Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, suspended all belief along with the usual order of the Senate and tried very, very hard to end the filibuster by accusing Davis of bogus violations of the filibuster rule. Under the fiibuster rules, Davis was required to remain on the topic of the bill. When she began to discuss forced ultrasound tests for women seeking abortions, the Republicans ruled it was not germane to the bill, which would have been her third violation and would have led to a vote to end the filibuster.
Democrats began raising points of order, objections, and making motions. Without jumping deep into the weeds here, let's just say they were successfully able to continue the delays until about 10 minutes before midnight. Republicans, on the other hand, decided tossing the regular order was warranted to get this very unpopular piece of legislation passed.
Meanwhile, there were hundreds of Wendy Davis supporters in the upper gallery and hundreds more outside the chamber itself. GOP men were shouting down Democratic women as things heated up. Finally Senator Leticia Van de Putte, who came from her father's funeral in order to oppose the bill, asked what it took for a Democratic woman to be heard over the shouts of Republican men.
The chamber exploded. The video from the last ten minutes is must-see TV. Watching here at home, I was counting down right along with them, because if they did not hold a vote before midnight, the bill was dead.
At 12:02 AM there was a voice vote heard on the live feed. Shortly after that, the AP published a breaking news blurb claiming the bill had passed.
Then this happened:
Yes, your eyes aren't lying. That is evidence that someone changed the official record to backdate the vote, which took place beginning at 12:02 AM on June 26th to before 11:59 PM on June 25th.
That's stealing the vote. Or cheating. Or being a Republican.
Social media is cruel to cheaters, though. There was a YouTube live stream, there was a paper record with a timestamp of 12:02 AM for the vote, there was this image of the date discrepancy, and there were plenty of reporters who put it together and deduced that hijinks were afoot.
Just after 2 AM Texas time, the Senate was called into a caucus. After some discussion, this flew across Twitter:
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) June 26, 2013
In an ironic and delicious twist, another tweet mentioned the fact that in 48 hours or so, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will address the National Right to Life Convention in Dallas.
Lt. Governor Dewhurst now haz a sad:
Without recognizing Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, for a motion to adjourn Sine Die, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst stepped down from the dais after ruling that time had expired on SB 5, telling the senators, "It's been fun, but, um, see ya soon."
He then told reporters that "an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics" derailed legislation that was designed to protect women and babies.
He said he was "very frustrated."
"I didn't lose control of what we were doing," he told reporters. "We had an unruly mob."
Memo to Lt. Gov Dewhurst: Expect more angry mobs as long as you threaten women's health and their constitutional rights. It's the Texas way. Respect everyone's rights, and the mob leaves you alone.
Texas women won this round because they rose up and refused to be bullied by Republicans, but it's not really dead. Perry is expected to call another special session, because important redistricting measures and transportation bills did not come to the floor as a result of the filibuster. But for this night, real democracy happened.
This feels like a tipping point for Texas. Watching a small woman in running shoes and a back brace stand up for thirteen hours to those bullying Republican Senators in order to make sure women in Texas were not stripped of their rights was inspiring. It was real, and it's something Washington DC should consider when they play their stupid non-filibuster filibuster games on a daily basis. Last night, a small minority of scrappy Democrats backed by thousands of observers and fans defeated corrupt Republicans. That's a reason to celebrate.
Senator Wendy Davis is destined for great things. Her colleague and partner in this venture, Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) was a terrific understudy for her. His 40-minute long argument for appealing the decision on the third point of order, done in a very, very slow Texas drawl, was a sight to behold.
Because of Republicans' behavior in front of Texas and the rest of America, it's quite likely Texas really will turn blue, and sooner rather than later. Stay tuned, this is just the beginning.
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