Ted Cruz Finishes His Epic Senate Speech After 21 Hours
The Texas Senator finally yields the floor after delivering the fourth-longest floor speech in Senate history.
Sen. Ted Cruz has taken to the floor of the Senate for the second day in a row, although this time, he has no plans to leave. This is the promised Cruz talk-a-thon — not technically a filibuster — even as the leaders of his party's caucus is trying to hurry it up. You can watch it here. Cruz is not-filibustering a House government funding bill that would defund Obamacare.
12:05 p.m.: Just before noon, Cruz finally relinquished the floor, just a shade over 21 hours after he began speaking. A new legislative day begin every day at 12:00 p.m., forcing Cruz's hand. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has now taken the floor and is moving forward with the cloture vote. That's all folks.
10:47 a.m.: Cruz has just passed the 18-hour mark, and will soon surpass the fourth-longest speech in Senate history. However, he might not get a chance to break past No. 3, as he'd have to speak past 1:00 p.m., when the Senate has scheduled the vote that will end the debate. (Here's the full list, via The Washington Post.)
7:58 a.m.: Cruz's speech has now passed the 17-hour mark. It's the fifth-longest address in Senate history.
6:20 a.m.: Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is currently giving Cruz a breather, while extoling the virtues of the free enterprise system.
1:12 a.m.: Ted Cruz is now reading the lyrics to Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue." He chose not to sing the lyrics, joking that doing so might violate the Geneva Convention.
Ted Cruz quoting Obama supporter Toby Keith— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) September 25, 2013
12:44 a.m.: Mike Lee (R-Utah) has been speaking for about 20 minutes at this point, calling the Supreme's Court ACA decision the act of a "super-legislative" body.
11:41 p.m.: Cruz is reading tweets again, following a slight hiccup.
Cruz starts reading tweets, realizes he already read them. "I've done these"— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) September 25, 2013
11:00 p.m.: Senator Chris Murphy is NOT happy about Cruz's non-filibuster right now:
Walking into Capitol to take 11-1 shift presiding over the Senate for this pointless fairy tale non-filibuster.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 25, 2013
10:03 p.m.: As Sarah Palin promises to send Ted Cruz some caribou jerky, Cruz begins reading more tweets from his #MakeDCListen hashtag. Tweets along these lines:
Tired of seeing DC disregard the Constitution and repudiate their oath #MakeDCListen— The Update (@TheUpdateGroup) September 25, 2013
@GOP Sick of our employees deluding themselves into believing they are our bosses. #MakeDCListen #KeepCruzing #DefundObamacare— Tammy Smith (@theyhaunt1235) September 25, 2013
For some reason, he excluded the following tweets:
Unpleated pants #makeDClisten— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) September 25, 2013
Good slices of pizza. #makeDClisten— KateNocera (@KateNocera) September 25, 2013
#MakeDCListen to Sgt. Pepper. Might chill people out for a bit.— Stefan Becket (@stefanjbecket) September 25, 2013
9:41 p.m.: Welcome to the end of hour seven of Ted Cruz talks about America. It sounds like the chamber might be getting a bit lonely, as CSPAN reports that just Senators Cruz, Lee, and Sessions (plus, Rep Louie Gohmert) have recently appeared on the floor.
8:55 p.m.: Earlier, Cruz read his daughters bedtime stories from the Senate floor, including Green Eggs and Ham. Here's an adorable photo of his kids listening to it:
Pic of @SenTedCruz daughters as he reads them Green Eggs & Ham. #MakeDCListen pic.twitter.com/UXqFg0xrPB— Jason Johnson (@jasonsjohnson) September 25, 2013
8:40 p.m.: For those keeping score at home, Sen. Ted Cruz has been non-filibustering for six hours. The longest he can speak, before the Senate begins voting on the continuing resolution, is until 1 p.m. tomorrow. Back at the talkathon, Cruz's latest theme was more or less summed up in this tweet from his office:
Why do Americans hold this body in such low regard? Because we pass laws that treat us better than them. #MakeDCListen— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) September 25, 2013
Cruz also took a moment to discuss This Town, specifically This Town's journalists: "The political reporters in Washington D.C...really wanted to be Hollywood gossip reporters," he said. That gossip, goes his argument, is a distraction from how "indefensible" Obamacare is.
6:43 p.m.: Senator Marco Rubio gets a question, which he uses to give a long speech against Obamacare (and for free enterprise — he sees the two as mutually exclusive), and therefore Cruz a break. Cruz responds by calling Rubio's election to Congress a "transformational" moment in U.S. politics. Meanwhile, as Cruz laments the press's characterization of Obamacare as a done deal, with no hope of repeal, the press have started wandering off from covering his non-filibuster:
6:05 p.m.: Answering another question from Sen. Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz says that "One of the most devastating consequences of Obamacare" is that its "forcing so many Americans into part-time work." This is an argument Ted Cruz has brought out before against Obamacare — that it, somehow, is the most damaging negative catalyst in the current job market — and as we've explained before, it isn't exactly based in fact.
5:45 p.m.: Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama offers a question, and it's an interesting one. Sessions piggy-backs on Cruz's argument that the Democratic Party hopes Obamacare falls in an effort to institute a single-payer program. (This doesn't enjoy broad objective support as a theory.) He notes Obama's past support for such a system, which Cruz disparages in practice in other countries. He praises the "candor" of his opponents who are willing to endorse "socialized medicine."
4:30 p.m.: Cruz is generally retreading the same ground, but carved out time to critique fact-checkers, "a particularly pernicious bit of yellow journalism that's cropped up."
4:10 p.m.: Louisiana's David Vitter asks a question, prompting Cruz to praise Vitter's call for members of Congress to move their personal and staff health care policies to the Obamacare exchanges. That call met with stiff resistance from Senate Democrats.
3:50 p.m.: Unlike the filibusters of Paul and Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, Cruz's filibuster isn't yet tearing up social media. The informal hashtag for the speech is #Cruzbuster, which is seeing some tweets, though not all supportive. Cruz is pushing #MakeDClisten which is doing about the same. #DefundObamacare is trending — but largely independent of the Cruz speech.
3:30 p.m.: Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a strong ally of Cruz, steps in to "ask a question" — though it's really meant to give Cruz a chance to take a break from speaking. When Sen. Rand Paul launched his filibuster earlier this year, both Cruz and Lee played the same role for him. Paul lasted about two-and-a-half hours before needing relief; Cruz has been going about an hour.
3:10 p.m.: Cruz's speech has largely mirrored his one from Monday, railing against the role of Obamacare in eviscerating the economy (which it hasn't). Among the analogies he has used: Those fighting Obamacare are like patriots during the Revolutionary War; naysayers are like those willing to appease Nazis; Americans tackle scary things, like going to the moon. (Actual quote: "The moon might be as intimidating as Obamacare.")
On that filibuster distinction: As ABC News reports, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid outlined the rules for debate on the continuing resolution, the measure passed by the House that excludes any funding for Obamacare.
[E]ven if Cruz speaks throughout the night, a vote Wednesday will occur regardless because the Senate is operating on “auto pilot,” as Reid described it Monday. According to a senior Democratic leadership aide, Senate rules dictate that the Senate will automatically adjourn at noon Wednesday then return to session to hold a cloture vote on the motion to proceed, which will require 60 votes.
As The Washington Post reports, that Wednesday vote is a cloture vote, to end debate on the bill. A Senate aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Atlantic Wire that people counting votes on the Hill believe there could be as many as 80 votes to do so, leaving Cruz in the distinct minority. "Momentum in the last 24 hours," we were told, "has clearly broken away from Cruz." Cruz nonetheless plans to speak "until I am no longer able to stand."
Earlier, the leaders of the Republican caucus emphasized a sense of urgency about sending a bill back to the House, as The Hill reports. "The Republicans," it reports, "are worried that if the Senate takes until Sunday to pass the continuing resolution, Boehner would not have much choice but to accept it." After all, the current funding for the government expires on September 30th. If the Senate doesn't return a bill to the House until Saturday, there are only about 48 hours to have the House approve or amend it.
That's why the Senate rules exist as Reid articulated. Cruz's speech will not slow the process down. Even if he could speak forever, the "auto pilot" Senate would move on around him, awkward though it might be. But Cruz is presumably generating a lot of goodwill (and some sound bites) for any future campaigns.
We will update this post with details from Cruz's speech as it progresses.