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The Brief: June 25, 2013

A highly charged end to the special session tonight could yield a rare feat in Texas politics: a victory for Democrats.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, during debate over the state budget bill on March 20, 2013.

The Big Conversation

A highly charged end to the special session tonight could yield a rare feat in Texas politics: a victory for Democrats.

After House Democrats on Sunday slowed debate on controversial GOP-backed legislation that would impose some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation, Senate Democrats on Monday fended off a Republican attempt to rush the bill toward passage.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst twice pushed to suspend rules that kept the Senate from taking up the bill until Tuesday — even helping to arrange a charter plane to fly in one Republican senator who was out of state, according to The Dallas Morning News. But a united Democratic minority — despite the absence of San Antonio Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, whose father died Friday — scuttled Republicans' plans.

The failed move cleared the path for a Democratic filibuster of the bill on Tuesday, the last day of the special session. And on Monday, one Democrat with some experience in the area had already stepped up.

"The leadership may not want to listen to TX women, but they will have to listen to me. I intend to filibuster this bill," Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth tweeted on Monday. Davis' filibuster over school funding last session forced a special session and raised her already high profile.

Republicans can bring up the measure at 11 a.m. today, meaning Davis would have to speak nonstop until midnight — more than 12 hours — to kill the bill.

Whether the filibuster would take down any other bills remains unclear. Davis told the Austin American-Statesman that Democrats would "overwhelmingly" support bills that lawmakers have yet to pass — on transportation and criminal justice — if Dewhurst brings them up for a vote before the abortion bill. Of course, any bills taken up before the abortion legislation would cut into the amount of time Davis would have to spend talking.


•    Lacking Definitive Ruling on Affirmative Action, Both Sides Claim Victory (The New York Times): "The Supreme Court’s decision to send a thorny affirmative action case back to the lower courts for additional review left both sides claiming victory on Monday. Civil rights groups that favor race-conscious admissions cheered the ruling, arguing that the court had upheld its 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger. That decision supported the principle that states have a compelling interest in achieving student diversity but required that any plan to include race as a factor in admissions should be subjected to strong scrutiny. … Edward Blum, the man who has been the driving force behind the challenge to the University of Texas at Austin ruled on by the court, scoffed at the claims of a victory from groups that support affirmative action. 'If they are excited about this ruling,' he said, 'I think it’s gravely misplaced.'"

•    Immigration reform: Senate backs 'border surge' in test vote (Politico): "The support of 67 senators on a test vote for a so-called 'border surge' deal on Monday strongly signaled that a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws will clear the Senate later this week. The amendment, from Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, cleared a procedural vote in the Senate 67-27. Fifteen Republicans voted in favor of cloture, and zero Democrats broke from their party to oppose the measure. … Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he couldn’t support a proposal that was 'cobbled together' at the last minute."

•    Abbott Releases Bio Video on "Perseverance" (The Texas Tribune): "In a new video biography narrated by former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, Attorney General Greg Abbott — widely believed to be running for governor — talks about the accident that paralyzed him."

•    Dallas mayor uses inaugural ceremony to endorse health care for the poor (The Dallas Morning News): "Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings waded into state and national politics Monday with a call for the city to do as much as possible to help uninsured residents take advantage of the health care overhaul championed by the Obama administration. Speaking during the Dallas City Council’s inaugural ceremony, Rawlings directly challenged Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, calling implementation of the act 'critical to the well-being of our citizens and our city.'"

Quote of the Day: "If you don’t have a plan, sometimes you don’t achieve what you’d like to achieve. We appear to be flying a little bit by the seat of our pants." — State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, criticizing Republican leadership for failing to stop Democrats from slowing debate on abortion legislation during the special session


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