This blog normally covers events and politics in Connecticut, but the scene that unfolded late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning at the Texas state Capitol in Austin is so remarkable that it warrants discussion here.
AM Update: The abortion legislation is dead. Texas senators emerged around 3 a.m. CDT this morning and said that the vote did not begin before last night\’s midnight deadline.
Here\’s video from one camera in the rotunda of Texas Capitol, where Sen. Wendy Davis addressed supporters after the session finally ended. The real action starts at about the 25-minute mark. Careful, it\’s loud at some points.
Live video by Ustream
After Republicans in the Texas Senate declared the filibuster on a controversial abortion bill by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis finished at about 10 p.m. Central Daylight Time, hundreds of protesters packed into the upper galleries around the Senate chamber yelled and hollered and chanted so loudly and for so long that the Senate was unable to normally call its roll and appeared to miss its midnight deadline to vote on the legislation before the end of the state\’s special legislative session.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who was presiding, repeatedly tried regain order of the chamber as cheers of \”WENDY! WENDY! WENDY!\” drowned out the voice of the secretary rattling off senators\’ names in an attempt to take a final vote on the bill.
But Dewhurst eventually appeared to give up, simply standing at the dais as Democrats swarmed toward him yelling and pointing at their legislative rulebooks. He even appeared to briefly leave the chamber a few minutes before midnight.
But then, as the final minute of Tuesday ticked away in Austin, most of the Senate appeared to gather around the secretary who apparently kept taking roll on the bill. Dewhurst announced a passing tally of 19-10 at 12:02 a.m. CDT but it is still not clear if that vote was a valid one.
The Texas Tribune and other media outlets reporting in Austin say that Republicans insist the vote began before the midnight deadline and therefore, it counts. But at this moment, at 2:54 a.m. EDT, senators have reportedly been called back into caucus to decide how they\’ll resolve the situation.
If the bill is approved and is signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, most abortion clinics in Texas would be forced to close. The Associated Press reports that women living along the states southern border would face a drive of hundreds of miles to get the procedure performed.
Davis, a Democrat from Ft. Worth, had begun speaking against the abortion measure at about 11:18 a.m. CDT, according to local press reports. Republicans declared her effort finished after 11 hours, saying she had thrice violated the chamber\’s filibuster rules by receiving aid from a fellow senator (bracing of her back) and by twice talking about topics that were not \”germane\” to the abortion bill.
Republicans said Davis committed her third violation when she began speaking about a bill the legislature passed in 2011 requiring women to get an ultrasound before having an abortion, which leaders said was not germane to the discussion Tuesday night.
Democrats then launched into a flurry of parliamentary motions and questions that took nearly two hours to untangle. With about 10 minutes to go, one Democratic senator–fed up that her motion to adjourn had not been discussed–asked a final question of Dewhurst:
\”At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be heard over a male colleague?\” asked Sen. Leticia R. Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.
Rather than answer her question or take any others, Dewhurst simply ordered the Senate secretary to begin a roll call. And so began the cacophony that plunged the Texas Senate into chaos.
Get more on this story here