NPT Capitol: Senate pulls all nighter, calls it Democracy
The Texas Senate will vote on a Voter ID bill next week after a bitter committee battle raged through Tuesday afternoon, evening and into Wednesday morning. The bill, authored by Sen Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, would require citizens to show a photo-ID before being able to cast a vote on election day.
The bill was referred to the committee of the whole, meaning all Senators were present at the hearing. Democrats, who are uniformly opposed to the measure, used every trick in the book to delay and draw out the process, which took a whopping 23 hours in total. [link] [link]. Eventually the bill was voted out of committee by a margin of 20-12. The vote was along party lines: 19 Reps to 12 Dems with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst vote with the ‘ayes’ as well.
The bill will now hit the Senate floor on Monday, no doubt accompanied by vociferous debate and procedural intrigue. The reason is simple. The Republicans have the votes to pass the bill. This is because in January, they forced through an amendment to Senate rules allowing Voter ID legislation to be passed by a simple majority rather than the 2/3rds needed for every other bill. [link]
As such, the Democrats have only two options come Monday: stall and ball. They will pursue both.
They will stall by exploiting grey areas and loop holes in the Senate procedural rules and by filing amendments galore. Because the Republicans have the votes, each amendment and point of order will be rebuffed.
Because of this, they will ball. The Republicans have already made the debate on Monday a laughing stock, so the Democrats will attempt to turn it into a beauty contest. This will be achieved by using hours of mic time to make what are essentially campaign speeches, and by using amendments to make rhetorical points about Republican priorities.
Senator Shapiro, R-Plano, said the bad-tempered and completely futile marathon committee session was “democracy at its best.” Senator Kirk Watson, D-Austin, agreed. [link]
I am inclined to disagree.
— Ben Wright