Texas Senator Lady Yammers On About Abortion For 13 Hours, Probably On The Rag (Updated)
Updated Update: After everything seemed to be over, a pleasant surprise: The filibuster worked, and Senate Bill 5 was not passed. See new post here.
Tonight, Dear Wonkers, this filibusterin' Texas Senate lady, state Sen. Wendy Davis, will prove whether ladies' bladders are as wee as their brains. Sen. Davis is our newest nominee for Legislative Badass of the Year, and we are rooting for her and her silly lost cause of preserving women's control over their own bodies. If only she can keep control over her little lady bladder, at least.
We would call it Nice Time, but it's more like Cliffhanger Time. Is there a livestream? Yes, there is a livestream.
Yesterday, we introduced you to the evil house counterpart of Sen. Davis, Texas state Rep Jodie Laubenberg, the idiot sponsor of the incredibly restrictive abortion bill that Davis is talking about. Rep. Laubenberg, you'll recall, thinks that a rape kit is a magic womb-cleanser, and brings similar logic to the issue of abortion: if Texas merely makes getting a legal abortion next to impossible, women will suddenly stop having abortions, right? And so the bill that passed the Texas House yesterday would bring Mississippi-style restrictions to Texas: a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks, plus new requirements that clinics be certified as "ambulatory surgical centers" and their doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. If this abomination passes the Senate, all but 5 of Texas's 47 existing clinics would have to close.
And so, on to the badassery: Sen. Davis has taken on the challenge of filibustering the bill for thirteen hours, until the scheduled end of the special legislative session at midnight Texas time. As this post goes up, she's more than halfway through the ordeal, with roughly 6 hours to go, and we hope, for her sake and Texas women's sake, that she can keep going. (Do we want to speculate on whether she has taken extra precautions? Depends! HA-HA, pee joke!) If a post from a mommy warblog can be of any help. Sen. Davis, we are all pulling for you.
And this is old-fashioned, stay talking until you win or fall down filibustering. As Gawker notes, Texas's filibuster rules are pretty strict:
This will be no easy task: Senate rules require all filibustering lawmakers to remain standing for the entire duration of their speech — forbidding them from so much as leaning against a desk. Davis is allowed to take questions from fellow Democrats, giving her time to rest her voice, but can't leave the podium for any reason.
To ensure she had sufficient material to speak for 13 hours straight, Davis asked women who have undergone abortions to send her their story "so I can tell it from the Senate floor."
Sen. Davis is still going strong at hour seven-and-then-some. Yr. Wonkette will check in with occasional updates tonight, and if she can keep going, by golly we will livebloog the final hour of the filibuster, too, starting at midnight EDT. Thanks to all the tipsters who have been yelling at us, we are on it!
Update, 8: 35 pmSen. Davis has received two warnings for Points Of Order; we will crib explanations from Becca Aaronson with the Texas Tribune's liveblog:
[6: 59 p.m. EDT] As state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth passed the potential halfway mark of her 13-hour filibuster of Senate Bill 5, state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, rose and made multiple attempts to call point of orders that her speech was not germane to the bill. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ruled that discussion of Planned Parenthood's budget was not germane to SB 5 and issued a warning.
There's a three strikes, you're out precedent in the Senate that allows senators two warnings about staying germane to the bill topic. On the third strike, a simple majority of the Senate can vote to end debate and the senator must yield the floor.
and then, later, after another senator assisted Davis with putting on a back brace:
[8: 27: pm EDT] If state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth receives one more point of order, her attempt to filibuster on Senate Bill 5 will be over. Davis received her second warning when the senate voted 17 to 11 to sustain a point of order called by state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands on Davis for receiving assistance to put on a back brace.
“A filibuster is an endurance contest and it's to be made unaided and unassisted," Williams said in defense of the point of order.
The Republican majority in the Texas Senate is going to do everything they possibly can to stop Davis; we may have to invent whole new categories of legislative Shitmuffin awards for these jerks.
Second Update, 11: 15 EDT:The filibuster has crashed and burned with a third and final point of order, which was called when Sen. Davis mentioned a 2011 law that also was designed to make life in Texas hell for women. Again, the explanation from the Texas Tribune's Becca Aaronson:
[11: 07 EDT] The Senate Bill 5 filibuster is over. The Democrats, led by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, have lost after she talked for more than 11 hours, nearly continuously, in an effort to kill abortion legislation. State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-San Antonio, jumped to her feet to call a point of order on Davis when she began discussing the impact of the 2011 abortion sonogram law in Texas.
Davis tried to argue that her discussion of the impact of that law was germane, because the abortion restrictions in SB 5 would be coupled with the sonogram requirements. But that argument didn't stick.
"After going over what people heard as far as discussion, Sen, Campbell your point of order iswell taken and is sustained," said Dewhurst.
Davis' third violation of the Senate's filibuster rules came just before the filibuster countdown hit the two-hour mark. Now, the Senate can vote to end the filibuster and likely a vote on SB 5.
“Let her speak," the audience in the gallery chanted. Despite multiple attempts, Dewhurst struggled to bring the chamber to order. State troopers have begun forcing everyone in the Senate gallery to exit the chamber.
The Democrats are attempting to debate the decision to sustain that third point of order, but we are not going to get our hopes up.
Third Update, June 26, 10: 10 a.m.We've never been so happy to be wrong -- the attempt to shut down the filibuster failed, and SB 5 is done. See full post here.