In a move surely to be cheered by some and highly criticized by others, Texas Senator Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor on Tuesday and spoke for over 21 hours in opposition to funding parts of the Affordable Care Act within the next Continuing Resolution to fund the government.
Report from the Guardian:
Texan Republican Ted Cruz talked through the night in a marathon speech against Obamacare, in a show of congressional theatrics devoid anything other than symbolic consequence.
Reading from children’s books to keep going, a tired-looking Cruz was joined in shifts by fellow conservatives Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Pat Roberts in a stand against Barack Obama’s plan to extend health insurance in the US.
Cruz’s speech was not technically a filibuster, as it he was merely speaking during a permitted time slot. Nevertheless he gave one of the longest Senate performances ever, stopping after 21 hours 19 minutes, with occasional remarks by other conservative senators.
The speech was ostensibly intended to hold up the passage of what is known as a continuing resolution: a motion to maintain funding for the federal government. The resolution passed the House of Representatives on Friday, but is the subject of controversy because Republicans tacked on a provision that would defund the non-mandatory elements of the Affordable Care Act.
But there was never a chance that the resolution would be delayed: Cruz always knew that he would have to give way to a procedural vote. Indeed, after sitting down, he joined every other senator in allowing debate on the resolution to continue.
Some Republicans have disavowed Cruz’s tactics. A number are fearful that they will be blamed for the consequences of a government shutdown and, others complain of the difficulty of explaining Cruz’s position: attempting to block a measure that he supports.
Some of the sharpest criticism came from fellow Republican John McCain who went on record also on the Senator floor to rebuke many of Cruz’s statements following the 21 hour speech.
The next phase in this battle is the cloture vote for final passage of the bill coming this Friday or Saturday. There was confusion earlier in the week as Senator Cruz himself voted for cloture to debate the bill. This was followed by his 21 hour speech urging his fellow Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to vote against cloture for final passage of the bill. The reason for this is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will introduce a single amendment which will strip the Obamacare defunding language from the bill once the bill reaches the senator floor. Thus, Cruz is asking for at least 41 votes to filibuster cloture and demand the language stay in the bill and force all Senators to take an up or down vote on defunding Obamacare.
Cruz’s 21 hour speech was aimed mostly at the American people to contact their legislators and demand they support his efforts. Is Cruz a serious player here or is he following in Senator Paul’s footsteps to have his filibuster and carve out some support in the GOP primary for 2016?