Blood on the Senate Floor (Updated)
Whitmire vs. Dewhurst get vocal on the floor, all over a voter-ID bill.
By Richard Whittaker,
9:01AM, Wed. May 16, 2007
Just when ya think all the fun is in the House, the Senate comes out swinging – almost literally.
Tempers were raised when House Bill 218 – one of the slew of voter-ID bills the GOP has tried to hammer through this session – came up on the Senate floor, and there was an attempt to suspend regular business to allow for its pivotal second reading. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called the bill up at a point when, remarkably (and far be it from us to declare anything suspect), Sen. Carl Uresti, D-San Antonio, was sick in his office and Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, appeared to be absent. This would mean the Democrats wouldn't have the people to prevent a second reading, so it went through the vote, 19-9 (Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, was also out of the room, which cut the GOP turnout by one.)
But hold on. Turned out Whitmire wasn't absent, and, as he pointed out to the president of the Senate in robust terms, he was "working the goddamn floor!"
Dewhurst at one point told Whitmire to compose himself or leave the floor, but all that did was get everyone's dander up. Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, weighed in, suggesting that Dewhurst check the video to see where Whitmire was. This got grimmer and more feisty, until Dewhurst finally acceded to another record vote. Actually (and we again are not suggesting any conspiracy or planning or bad faith on his behalf) Hegar was back, which would cancel out Whitmire's vote.
Bad news for the lite guv - Uresti was back. So the voter-suppression measure went down 20-11, and Dewhurst has quite possibly shattered any chance of a peaceful time before the end of the session.