No action on SB5 in the Senate

The name of the game is running out the clock.

Right there with them

Right there with them

Texas Democrats, far outnumbered by Republicans in both the House and the Senate, are nonetheless on the verge of killing one of the most restrictive abortion proposals in the nation — at least for now.

Using delaying tactics and parliamentary rules, the minority party argued into the wee hours in the state House on Monday morning and then stuck together to keep the GOP from jamming Senate Bill 5 through the Senate in the afternoon. Republicans vowed to try to try to muster enough support to push the bill through again Monday night, but it was unclear if they could change any minds.

SB 5, by state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks and would establish stringent new requirements for facilities that perform abortions. Supporters of the bill say it would make the procedures safer for women and protect unborn babies. Abortion rights proponents say the legislation would shut down most of the abortion facilities in Texas.

With barely more than a day left in the 30-day special session called by Gov. Rick Perry at the end of May, that means Democrats have moved much closer to putting the controversial measure within the range of a filibuster.

“I think we are now in a position to try to do what’s right for the women of this state,” said Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “We need to be protecting women’s health in this state, and we need to be protecting a woman’s right to make choices about her body.”

Sen. Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat and rising star in the party, has vowed to launch a filibuster. Unless Republicans can change some votes, the abortion measure can’t be brought up for debate until Tuesday morning at about 11 a.m. Since the session ends at midnight Tuesday, that means she could kill the legislation by talking nonstop for about 13 hours.

The Democrats won a test vote at about 4 p.m., turning away a GOP attempt to fast track the abortion legislation by suspending a 24-hour layout rule. It takes a supermajority — two-thirds of those present — to suspend that rule. The Democrats voted as a bloc and stopped debate on the measure.

There was a second attempt to get a motion to suspend but it failed as well. The Senate is in recess until 10 AM today. As noted, from that point on it’s a matter of someone talking till midnight, at which point the session expires. There could, of course, be a second session called, but you take your victories where you can.

In the meantime, let the blame game begin!

Accusations of who’s to blame for the anti-abortion proposal’s potential demise already are starting to fly.

Look no further than the always vocal Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who blasted leadership after the Senate recessed Monday afternoon.

In a short back-and-forth with reporters, Patrick said “very clearly it does not look like there was coordination between the people who lead the majority” when it comes to Senate Bill 5.

“It’s just clear that we appear to be flying a little bit by the seat of our pants. These are important bills. You don’t fly by the seat of your pants when you try to pass important bill.”

Patrick added: “We’re the majority if the majority can’t pass the legislation they think is important and the people think is important then that’s a great concern to me.”

In response, Lt. Gov David Dewhurst said Patrick misrepresented leadership’s strategy and that he “had a very clear plan” to “pass good pro life legislation.”

Dewhurst quickly turned the table to focus on the House, which passed SB5 Monday morning.

After passing the bill, the House sent SB5 to the Senate for the upper chamber to concur with a change it made when the lower chamber put back language to ban abortions at 20-weeks.Concurring with the House change is the final step for the Senate before sending the bill to Gov. Rick Perry.

But because the House wrestled with SB5 from Sunday evening all the way into Monday morning, it delayed the Senate’s ability to move forward and cut short the potential for an even longer filibuster from Democrats.

“I asked the House ‘please don’t send it to us at the last minute, please,’” Dewhurst said. “Send it out at the latest on Sunday afternoon, so we’ll be able to take it up outside of filibuster range. “

Dewhurst added: “The House, by passing this out late this morning, it means that we can’t bring the bill up until tomorrow at 11 o’clock … most of us … could stand up for 13 hours and talk. That’s the reason why I wanted Senate Bill 5 passed out of the House by late afternoon Sunday, so we could bring it up this afternoon, and I think out of filibuster range where its difficult for most people to talk for 36 hours in a row.”

I don’t know, I might have included Rick Perry in the blame, since he sets the session agenda and all. But then, Dan Patrick isn’t (possibly) running against Perry. And it must be noted, Dewhurst did try to go the extra mile.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in a letter Monday that the he plans to move forward with a package of strict abortion restrictions even if the San Antonio Democrat is away attending services for her recently deceased father.

“I cannot in good conscience delay the people’s work on these important matters,” Dewhurst wrote Monday.


Van de Putte’s vote could be what determines whether Democrats can block Republican efforts to suspend the 24-hour layout rule. Without her, Democrats don’t have enough votes to block it.

And Van de Putte is scheduled to be in San Antonio on Monday attending services for her father, Daniel San Miguel Jr., who was killed in a car accident last week. Van de Putte lobbed a letter at Dewhurst a day earlier (rumors have been swirling all day at the Capitol about Van De Putte potentially showing up; her office declined to comment).

In his letter, Dewhurst offered condolences but made clear the Senate cannot wait because time is running out on the special session.

“I believe we can fulfill our obligation to the people of Texas while honoring your beloved father’s memory,” he wrote.

The wild card in the equation: Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville.

Lucio supports the package of anti-abortion bills, and he’s also planning to vote in favor of a motion to suspend the 24-hour layout rule. But he’s said he won’t cast that vote unless Van De Putte is on the floor.

“Senator Van de Putte asked me directly — knowing I support Senate Bill 5—to nonetheless vote no on suspending the 24-hour posting rule on the bill until she can be in the Senate chamber to cast her vote against it.” Lucio said. “I am honoring Senator Van de Putte’s request.”

Heck of a guy, that David Dewhurst. Remember when he tried to take advantage of John Whitmire being in the bathroom to push through a vote on voter ID during Mario Gallegos’ convalescence after his liver transplant? Good times. Lucio thankfully stuck to his word, and Dewhurst was thwarted – for now – having ruined Sen. Kevin Eltife’s vacation for nothing.

So it comes down to today, and there will be filibustering. Maybe the Rs have something up their sleeve to overcome that – after 10 AM, all they’ll need is a majority vote – and as noted, maybe Rick Perry will call another session. But this is a win, and as was the case ten years ago with the Killer Ds, it’s a galvanizing event. If you’re in Austin today, you can be there to see it for yourself. And wherever you are, you can keep the ball moving after sine die, whenever that may be.

Finally, I can’t let this go without a tip of the hat to Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, who demonstrated that one does not have to be a man to say something profoundly stupid and offensive about rape. As they say, sometimes no sarcastic remark seems adequate. PDiddie has more.

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4 Responses to No action on SB5 in the Senate

  1. Matt says:

    Apparently the majority declined to pass the transportation and capital punishment bills first. I’d say it’s a near certainty there will be another special session. You?

  2. Agree. The Rs didn’t come this far to be beaten by Wendy Davis.

  3. Pingback: Texpatriate | The filibuster begins…

  4. TheUsualSuspects says:

    A special session costing tens of millions of dollars for 3 BILLS? Does this strike anyone as excessively expensive especially for the party that insists it’s all about not spending like “drunken Democrats”? It was Dick Cheney who famously said “Deficits don’t matter”It is very clearly a red herring used by both parties now to slash public programs that help real people (that is you and I) and another way to give to the rich and to privatize everything for the benefit of their benefactors the corporations, Wall St, etc.

    If people looked at the actual record they would find that the dollars spent by Democrats vs Republicans has historically been way lower. It was not long ago but already forgotten that GWBush put 2 wars and tax cuts for the rich on a credit card while he promoted an “ownership society” which was for every American to own a home. That coincided with how the banks scoured dumpsters for “live bodies” to give subprime mortgages to which they themselves didn’t worry about being repaid since they sold those off to Wall St. who in turn packaged them up and in the worst scandal of the last century which has gone unprosecuted to this day sold them to their customers many of whom were retirees and average folks who lost everything while they in turn bet AGAINST them. Their own clients. If that is not fraud I don’t know what fraud is. And we are still paying the price of the economic collapse with the loss of jobs and the loss of homes to foreclosures. Those people are not the highest percentage of homeless, however….nope, that honor goes to our returning veterans. Do our leaders have any shame at all? I say they don’t.

    The myth of democratic spending has been repeated over and over just as KKKRove instructed along with the think tanks that create the messaging that in a single day’s news cycle you will hear word for word repeated by any republican who gets air time. They learned that if you tell a lie often enough it becomes ingrained as the truth in the minds of the public.

    All the 2 parties do is fundraise and leave the writing of our policies to the lobbyists that litter DC like flies on poop. Or do you really think that these bills have been written by our elected officials who have time for nothing else but fundraising? I wish I was that naive but it’s hard to unlearn all I have seen since I have been paying close attention.

    I do hope the public is catching on although I can’t say I support the Democrats on a federal level since they also are under “corporate capture”. These days it costs millions to run for office and the bills are footed by corporations and Wall street which is a real conflict of interest to democracy itself.

    It sure doesn’t serve “we the people” which is why Citizen’s United needs to be struck down in congress but further which no party wants to happen so it won’t we need publicly funded elections that don’t run for over a year. It could be done for pennies compared to what is spent now and do we really need a year of campaigning and all those lies?

    It is very clearly no one in DC actually cares about budgets and deficits but serves as the red herring used to put to death what remains of the New Deal, namely Social Security (which has nothing at all to do with the deficit since it has it’s own trust fund and has nothing at all do with the the deficit but works as the a handy excuse to impose austerity that has destroyed Europe but when does America ever look at examples across the sea? We take a sick pride in our stupidity and are too arrogant to learn from both history and the experience of others.

    They would also like to do away with Medicare and Medicaid. Now that does cost a lot of money but if we were not running a “for profit” system that no other country in the world does (and for very good reason….look at what it costs and how it’s the number 1 cause of bankruptcy for people living here).

    Yes, health care does eat up our budget but ACA (Obama care) is not the solution since it does not address the real issue of the tremendous costs we pay compared for this “for profit” system. Big Pharma sells the same exact overseas by the same big pharma companies here that get away with charging Americans 3 to 4 times as much as they do countries overseas. We are #37 in the world for health care and outcomes…this the richest country in the world but the only one with a “for profit medical system” that clearly is in the interest of the corporations, Wall St and investors but not “we the people”.

    Dick Cheney famously said “Deficits don’t matter. He proved how much he cared when the Bush administration who many believed Cheney ran putting 2 wars and tax cuts for the super rich on a credit card for Obama to clean up. It can not be cleaned up in a few years, period. But, there are things Obama could do if he actually was not also working for the very same rich people. We don’t have a democracy or a republic anymore….what we have is “corporate capture”.

    Worse however was the market crash of 2008 which happened on their watch while Bush was cheerleading for an “ownership society”. The banks scrambled to get any live bodies to give subprime loans to. They did not have to worry about whether these were loans that would be repaid since Wall street was all to happy to partner with them by buying them up and selling them to their customers and then BETTING against them raking in billions. The legacy of these acts is why our economy collapsed and threatened to take the entire world down with it. It is still with us today and to date not a single banker has been prosecuted thanks to whomever the real powers are that run the puppets in office from either party. How else does one explain the worst case of fraud in history to date? Very clearly our elected officials stand for nothing but the well being of the shadow gov’t and the rich that own nearly all the wealth? That is a whole other topic but then I have veered so far off topic I don’t blame you for thinking I am nuts.

    If we have forgotten history which means we are constantly doomed to repeat it or we as a nation listen to the M$M that is nothing more than a propaganda mill. The GOP even owns it’s very own news station….Faux Noose. Please don’t compare it to the Democrats relationships to MSNBC because there have been no constant exchanges of millions of dollar and at although MSNBC is biased towards the liberal audience it at least uses facts which Fox can never be accused of doing.
    It is hardly in the interest of the corporations to tell us what they have done and will continue to do to us, is it?

    Perry is nuts. That’s all there is to it. Perry said today he was going back to the original redistricting map that they passed before, which will take Wendy Davis’ district away from her together with that of my old congressman, Lloyd Doggett. It will make sure NO Democrat wins anywhere in Texas. And it will be that way forever. This is Rove’s “PERMANENT REPBULIC MAJORITY.” He’s gonna have it here.

    They can do that because of the Supremes gutting the Voting Rights Act. The supposedly non partisan SCOTUS, 5 of whom have proven to be extreme ideologues. They are working just as hard as Perry to ensure that the GOP stays in the game and comes out on top. Oh, they don’t care about social issues like gay rights so they can let that decision throw cover over them as they go about their real agenda.

    Oh, and TX can now require photo IDs again, which Perry announced they would put into effect immediately. This is another deliberate attempt to keep people who have no ID and can’t afford the price of one without giving up food or shelter to get one who will most likely not vote for Perry and or the GOP.

    If you made it this far, congratulations. Too bad I don’t have an opinion, LOL. I don’t answer trolls so if you want to comment directly to me keep in mind I will choose to ignore you if you are not serious or only want to attack with pejoratives.

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