Confusion reigned early Wednesday morning after the deadline passed for Texas senators to vote on a sweeping abortion services bill. The bill was filibustered by Democrat Wendy Davis for almost 13 hours.
But with two hours left before the legislature’s special session ended, Davis received her third violation, forcing the Senate to determine whether the filibuster should end.
But there was no word on whether the vote took place to end the filibuster or not. It also remained unclear as to whether SB5 was voted on before midnight, or if it was voted on at all.
For the final 20 minutes of the special session, senators were unable to hear each other over the din of the crowd in the capital rotunda. The crowd took up chants for Davis, shouting, “Wendy! Wendy!” as the hashtags #sb5 and #StandWithWendy lit up on Twitter.
After midnight came and went, confusion reigned over whether the vote happened or if the din from the watching crowds prevented senators from voting in the final minutes of the session.
After 10 minutes, the Associated Press declared victory for Republicans, tweeting, “BREAKING: Republicans pass new restrictions expected to close almost every abortion clinic in Texas.” However, senators had yet to confirm the vote as of 3 am EDT on Wednesday.
WFAA reporter Jason Whitely, reporting live from the capitol, tweeted close to 3 am that the chamber was still in session. He added, “Dems and GOP meeting in back rooms.”
While lawmakers continued their meeting, pro-choice opponents of SB5 staged a sit in and refused to leave the rotunda, despite a heavy police presence. In answering questions tweeted to him, Whitely explained:
QUESTION: Was there a vote? Yes. GOP says #SB5 PASSED before midnight. Dems say vote was taken AFTER midnight and void. Uncertainty reigns.
— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) June 26, 2013
Even if EB5 is declared passed, it is likely that Democrats will file suit saying the vote took place after midnight and should be voided.