"What’s Next For Wendy Davis?"
After Sen. Wendy Davis (D-TX) successfully blocked an omnibus anti-abortion bill on Tuesday by filibustering it for 13 hours — without eating, drinking, straying off topic from the proposed measure, sitting, going to the restroom, or even leaning against a table — she became an overnight sensation. The hashtag #standwithwendy was trending worldwide on Tuesday night, the president tweeted out his support, Davis’ Wikipedia page was temporarily edited to declare her the “LeBron James of filibustering,” and dozens of memes in the Texas lawmaker’s honor spread throughout the Internet.
But the jubilation was somewhat short-lived. Less than 24 hours after Davis ran out the clock on Texas’ special session, ensuring the demise of the SB 5 abortion legislation, Gov. Rick Perry (R) decided to convene a second special session. The new session will begin on July 1, giving lawmakers yet another chance to push through SB 5.
So what’s next for Davis and the thousands of activists on the ground who did everything in their power to defeat SB 5? Is there any chance the stringent abortion restrictions can be blocked again? Here’s what we know so far:
The second special session begins on Monday, but there’s no firm schedule yet.
Even though Perry is calling lawmakers back at the beginning of next week for another 30-day session, that doesn’t mean the abortion fight will immediately resume. The legislation up for consideration will likely simply be referred to committee on that day. The schedule for voting isn’t public yet. One GOP source told an NBC News reporter that a final Senate vote on the abortion restrictions is tentatively planned for July 9, but nothing is final.
Unless there’s some way to delay the final vote until the last day of the session, another filibuster may not work.
If a final vote really does come up on July 9 — or within the next few days — even a lawmaker who has been compared to LeBron James wouldn’t be able to filibuster for long enough to block it. Texas has very stringent rules for filibusters that don’t allow lawmakers to talk about anything than the proposed bill or even go to the restroom. It would be impossible to sustain that for several days on end. Since legislation only needs a simply majority to advance during Texas’ special session, and since the state legislature is controlled by Republicans, the GOP is likely hoping to bring SB 5 to a vote as soon as possible to prevent someone like Davis from blocking it again.
Protesters are already mobilizing on the ground.
Davis wouldn’t have been able to block the legislation without the help of hundreds of protesters who worked to delay SB 5, both by testifying against it for hours and by creating a ruckus in the capitol. “Ultimately in that last 15 minutes of the evening, it became the People’s Filibuster,” Davis explained to MSNBC. And those people are gearing up for another fight. Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund has already pledged to keep working, declaring that “our fight is far from over.” NARAL Pro-Choice’s Texas chapter has promised to keep supporters updated about upcoming events once the organizers have regrouped and planned their next moves. And, even though there likely won’t be much legislative action on Monday, many protesters are planning to start assembling then anyway.
Davis is being encouraged to run for higher office, and she hasn’t ruled it out.
Davis is up for re-election next year — and, thanks to Texas Republicans’ efforts to gerrymander her district, she may not be able to hold onto her Senate seat. But she might make a run for the Governor’s mansion instead. Thousands of people have already signed onto a petition asking her to run, and they’ve even begun collecting money for her campaign. During an MSNBC appearance earlier this week, the Texas Democrat said she’s open to the idea.
No matter what happens in Texas, other states are engaged in the same fights.
Thanks to the groundswell of activism in Texas over the past week, the special session show-down captured the entire nation’s attention. But the stakes are just as high in other states, too. Some of the exact same abortion restrictions included in SB 5 — measures to criminalize abortion services before viability, force abortion clinics to close down, and ultimately limit women’s access to reproductive health care — are being enacted on the state level across the country. Even if Wendy Davis doesn’t block SB 5, she could spark other legislative rebellions in other states.