Inside the Senate, the jig was just about up. “TexasSens say timestamp issue proved the end of #SB5,” tweeted the Statesman’s Mike Ward. “No way around it.” If the bill was passed after midnight, it would certainly be subject to a lawsuit as unconstitutional. Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak posted on Twitter: “Source inside TX Senate caucus tells me #SB5 will be ruled to have been voted late.” Shortly after 2 am, the Houston Chronicle’s Peggy Fikac tweeted: “Re report that SB5 didn’t pass: Sen West said, ‘you’re on the right road.’” Greider, who had earlier posted a photo of print-outs showing the altered time record, tweeted reports from the floor: “Vote happened at 12:03.”

To be even more precise, the official time stamp read 12:03:14 am, Ramsey would tell me Wednesday. Ramsey believes that the Senate acted honestly to invalidate the vote once the true time emerged, though the change on the Texas Legislative Office’s website remains something of a mystery.

A little after 3 am, senators flooded back into the chamber; the tall, patrician-looking Dewhurst gaveled them back to order and announced that the abortion bill had not passed before the midnight deadline. He turned to leave the dais, but then stooped back to the microphone one more time and grinned: “It’s been fun but see ya soon.” Later, he told reporters, according to the Statesman: “An unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics, disrupted the Senate from protecting unborn babies.”

The long night in Austin was over—but not the debate. The sun came up and the temperature soared. Later Wednesday, Perry called the legislature back into a second special session at the pink-domed capitol. By then, the Morning News’s Christy Hoppe had perhaps the best recap of the crazy night, under a simple headline: “About Last Night: How the Abortion Bill Failed.”

 

Richard Parker is CJR's Texas correspondent. A regular contributor to the Op-Ed section of The New York Times, his columns on national and international affairs are syndicated by McClatchy-Tribune. He has also twice been appointed the visiting professional in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow him on Twitter @Richard85Parker.