Something Special Happened in Austin Last Night
Every once in a while, in the course of human events, a hero comes along, shrugs off insurmountable odds, speaks truth to power and prevails. Such events renew our faith in principles, truth and justice and allow our better angels to fly in the face of hypocrisy and corruption. Such an event occurred last night in Austin, Texas and the eyes of the nation were upon it.
Yesterday I wrote about Sen. Wendy Davis who planned to mount a filibuster in the Texas Senate in an effort to derail SB5, Texas Republicans’ most recent campaign in the War on Women. Sen Davis needed to speak on the senate floor for 13 hours to prevent a floor vote on the bill before the special session, called by Gov. Rick Perry to ram it through, timed out. Republicans control the Texas senate 2-to-1, so if the bill came to a vote, it would inevitably pass.
It’s not easy to mount a filibuster in the Texas senate. Senate rules require that the senator must stand by her/his seat and speak to the issue in hand only, without a break for bathroom, food, water. A strong majority can easily put an end to a filibuster by raising points of order and voting to sustain them—and it’s three strikes and you’re out. A devious majority can even put up two successful points of order and then allow the filibustering senator to struggle along, nearly to the end and then pounce.
That’s what happened last night. And with 15 minutes left for a roll call it looked like SB5 would pass but what Republicans weren’t counting on were the hundreds of Texans who packed the State House and gallery to #standwithwendy. And stand they did. Loudly.
Even after Lt. Gov David Dewhurst announced the vote completed and the bill passed, they stayed and #stoodwithwendy. It’s a good thing they did, too, because Republicans had passed the bill by pulling one of the dirtier tricks in the GOP Playbook: turning back the clock. That’s right! they lied about the time-stamp on the vote and changed it in their record system. Anyone who left early would have missed the soul-satisfying reversal, by Dewhurst, that SB5 had actually NOT passed.
It was a thing of beauty . . .
Oh . . . BTW, if it weren’t for the now-gutted Voting Rights Act there would be no Wendy Davis sitting in the Texas Senate . . .
Here’s a little scrapbook from last night:
President Obama #standwithwendy shout out. #SB5, #standwithwendy and #txlege were trending all night and into the morning on Twitter. Thousands watched livestreams on their TVs, PCs and phones.
Proper Filibuster Attire:
Out on a limb:
The Citizen’s Filibuster:
Victory for Texan Women: