Many of our supporters ask why Pro-Life bills get slowed down, if not killed, in the State Senate despite the existence of a clear Pro-Life Majority and Pro-Life Lieutenant Governor in the Senate Chamber.
This is often because of a rule unique to the Senate known as the Two-Thirds Rule. The Two-Thirds Rule requires that before a bill can be introduced on the Senate floor, two-thirds of the Senate (21 out of the 31 members [or two-thirds of the members present]) must vote to allow debate on the particular bill. Even though only a majority vote is needed for the bill to pass, these extra five votes needed to bring a bill up for debate often serve effectively as a measure to kill many bills that have passed out of committee and are supported by a majority of the Senate.
A relevant example of this rule is the current situation with the sonogram bill. While there are more than 16 Senators who would vote in favor of the bill, Senator Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) has been identified as the likeliest 21st vote needed to bring the bill up for debate. Being the 21st vote, Senator Uresti has requested substantial changes be made to the bill (that was passed 107-42 in the State House) before he agrees to vote to bring the sonogram bill up for debate, with final Senate passage all but guaranteed.
Much activity has been going on behind the scenes in the weeks following the passage of the House Chamber’s strong version of the sonogram bill. The Senate Committee substitute of the sonogram bill is on the calendar in the Senate and, contingent upon securing the 21st vote, can be expected to be heard on the floor late this week or early next week.
The Two-Thirds Rule makes passing Pro-Life legislation in the Senate very difficult. It is paramount that all Texas Pro-Life advocates contact their Senators, no matter their stance on issues of Life, and encourage them to allow important Pro-Life bills to be debated on the Senate floor.