Senate filibuster rules require the speaker to address only the bill in question. Two of the strikes against Davis were for "germaneness" -- one for discussing the U.S. Supreme Court decision granting women the right to an abortion, and the final strike for mentioning the 2011 law requiring a pre-abortion sonogram.
Davis and other Democrats argued that the topics were certainly germane to a discussion involving abortion, but Dewhurst disagreed, declining calls to explain the basis of his ruling.
Davis' filibuster continued by proxy as Democratic senators asked frequent questions and called numerous points of order -- each requiring a parliamentary ruling. Republicans were ready, however. Sens. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, and Dan Patrick, R-Houston, prepared motions to move the previous question, forcing votes that cut through the procedural filibuster.
The vote to force consideration of SB5 began around 11:45 p.m., when the crowd was already cheering Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, who objected to not being recognized to speak instead of Patrick: "At what point must a female senator have to raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"
Unlike the Texas House, where votes are taken by pressing buttons on each representative's desk and are displayed on large electronic boards, the Senate votes by roll call. Senators hold up fingers, one for yes, two for no.
The crowd, clapping and hooting throughout, unleashed a sustained scream that drowned out the gavel that was being banged for order. Emboldened, the volume continued to grow, and senators were unable to hear their names being called, delaying eventual approval for Patrick's motion to force a vote on SB5.
By then, it was close to midnight. Senators were hurriedly gathered at the front desk so they could hear the roll call vote on SB 5. Suddenly, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, stepped away -- brandishing his cellphone, which read the time: 12:00.
"Mr. President, what time is it?" he yelled. "What's the time?"
Dewhurst reappeared at the microphone: "Members, it's now past midnight, I'm going to look for a motion from Sen. Whitmire to sine die," or declare the session over. Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston and dean of the Senate, declined, and Dewhurst walked away.
Senators from each party claimed victory as they were mobbed by reporters who, facing deadlines, had no idea how to report the vote.
Texas Legislature Online, the Internet portal for the Legislature, initially posted notice that the bill was approved Wednesday, past the midnight deadline. Around 1:05 a.m., that posting was changed to say SB5 passed Tuesday, but reporters had already captured images of the initial posting, tweeting copies to their audience and prompting calls for an investigation into the change.
The gallery was mostly clear by then, but outside of three reported arrests, few seemed to have left the Capitol. Instead, the Rotunda floor was packed with people wearing orange, the designated color for opponents of the bill, and a sit-in was underway outside the Senate chamber.
In the meantime, senators of both parties met in private to figure out what happened, leading to Dewhurst's 3 a.m. announcement and cheers from Davis' supporters that echoed through the Capitol.
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