Over the course of the last two days, Americans have learned just how long Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) legs can hold out. At 2:41 p.m. Tuesday he rose to his feet on the Senate floor, saying, “I intend to speak in support of defunding ObamaCare until I am no longer able to stand.” At noon Wednesday — 21 hours and 19 minutes later — Cruz yielded to the start of a new day of Senate business, although he could have continued speaking for another hour under Senate rules.
It was not, technically speaking, a filibuster; but as the fourth-longest speech ever uttered in the Senate, it was certainly a demonstration of remarkable stamina. Whether it achieves its objective, preventing Congress from passing a continuing resolution (CR) that funds ObamaCare, remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: Nearly everyone in the country now knows who Cruz is and why he is so adamantly opposed to the unconstitutional monstrosity known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Although Cruz mostly stayed on message throughout his marathon speech, touching on the law’s numerous negatives such as its effects on jobs, economic growth, and insurance premiums, he did take time out to read bedtime stories to his two daughters: verses from the biblical book of Proverbs and Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. He was also spelled occasionally by like-minded colleagues, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Cruz argued that the Senate should not even proceed with debate on — let alone pass — a CR passed by the House of Representatives. That resolution, at the urging of conservatives such as Cruz, funds every federal agency and program except ObamaCare. However, Cruz fears that the Senate will restore the funding for the ACA, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has indicated he will, and then the House will pass that version of the CR.
“Any senator who votes (to move forward with debate on the House measure) is voting to give Harry Reid the authority to fund ObamaCare,” Cruz told CNN’s Dana Bash on Monday.
Yet even before Cruz had begun his “talkathon,” a majority of Senate Republicans had already indicated that they intended to vote for cloture, allowing the bill to proceed toward a final vote.
“I think we’d all be hard pressed to explain why we’re opposed to a bill we’re in favor of,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters early Tuesday afternoon. “Invoking cloture on a bill that defunds ObamaCare, doesn’t raise taxes, and respects the Budget Control Act, strikes me as a no-brainer.”
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Photo of Sen. Ted Cruz: AP Images