Texas Speaker Joe Straus Set the Stage for the Wendy Davis Filibuster
Most Texans were repulsed by Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster of the pro-life bill that outlawed abortion after 20 weeks when babies feel pain. But they’re confused about who's responsible for allowing the filibuster.
Gov. Rick Perry called a Special Session to convene on May 28. Incredibly, during that 30-day special session, Speaker Straus sent lawmakers home for a two-week recess from June 3 until June 17.
When Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst saw the lights coming the wrong way on the train tracks, he publicly warned Speaker Straus that if the House did not get the pro-life bill out of the House by a time certain, a filibuster was inevitable.
Straus arrogantly retorted, “I will bet him [Dewhurst] a steak dinner the House gets its business done.” Straus didn’t say he would get the bill to the Senate in time to avoid a filibuster. To the contrary, Straus’ two-week recess ensured the filibuster. It’s also noteworthy that the Speaker did not cast a single pro-life vote on any of the pro-life bills in any of the sessions.
It took the House Committee two days to get the bill out of committee. Then House Democrats extended floor debate for 15 hours claiming a Republican war against women when in fact Democrat opposition to the pro-life bill was an all out assault on the lives of women and babies.
Next came the parliamentary war. At 2 a.m. with only hours remaining in the 30-day session, House Republicans gathered the 25 signatures necessary to end debate on the bill, but it took two more hours for final passage because Democrats refused to show up for the vote. Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka stated the obvious, that Democrats ”[proved] once again that Ds are superior to Rs at the parliamentary jousting that takes place in legislative politics.”
Another factor cited by keen observer Michael Quinn Sullivan, President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, was that, “Given that House Speaker Joe Straus had a 100% score with the National Abortion Rights Action League and had spoken dismissively of pro-life efforts this year, the slow-boat calendar surprises...who?”
The bottom line stated by pro-life Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano: “It’s painfully obvious that we should have met last week to avoid these tactics,” rather than taking the Speaker’s two-week hiatus.
Evidence shows that Speaker Joe Straus is most responsible for the Wendy Davis filibuster and the expensive additional Special Session.