Ted Cruz's Faux Filibuster Ends After More Than 21 Hours

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 25 2013 12:03 PM

Ted Cruz's Faux Filibuster Ends After More Than 21 Hours

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

UPDATE: And it's over. Ted Cruz took the floor at 2:41 p.m. Tuesday and kept at it until right about noon today when—as expected and planned—the Texas Republican yielded the floor. The marathon talkathon wasn't technically a talking filibuster given that it never had a chance at actually preventing this afternoon's key test vote. If it would have been, however, it would have clocked in as the fourth-longest on record since the Senate began keeping detailed records in 1900.

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Wednesday, 9:31 a.m.: It's Wednesday morning, and Ted Cruz's mostly one-man faux filibuster is still going on. The Washington Post has the quick recap for those of us who continued to live our lives while the Texas Republican held the Senate floor overnight:

Cruz’s hours of oratory touched a broad mix of subjects and sources, including lyrics from a song by country music star Toby Keith; quotations from the popular reality television show “Duck Dynasty;” recollections of how his father, Rafael Cruz, used to make green eggs and ham for breakfast; and a recent acceptance speech by actor Ashton Kutcher at an awards show.
At one point Tuesday night, Cruz opted to read bedtime stories to his two young daughters, who he said were home in Texas watching television with his wife. Cruz first read King Solomon’s Wise Words from the Book of Proverbs and then the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs and Ham,” saying that it was one of his favorite children’s books. Several times Cruz read supportive messages sent to his office via Twitter.

Under Senate rules, Cruz is allowed to yield to colleagues for long-form questions—something he's done several times since Tuesday afternoon—but cannot leave the floor or sit down while his effort is under way. Ultimately, though, Cruz will have to yield the floor later today when it comes time for an already-scheduled test vote on the House bill.

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Original Post, Tuesday 3:38 p.m.: Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon, promising to "speak in support of defunding Obamcare until I am no longer able to stand." The Texan Republican may very well make good on that promise, but it's important to note that what he's technically doing isn't actually a filibuster in the sense that it can't prevent the Senate from taking the action Cruz opposes. In reality, it likely won't even noticeably slow the upper chamber down.

That's because the Senate has already set a time limit on the debate over the GOP-authored House CR that would keep the government running but strip out federal funds for the president's landmark healthcare law. The chamber is scheduled to hold a key procedural test vote tomorrow afternoon that appears certain to pass with bipartisan support. So, while Cruz can run out the clock until then, he can't actually stop the vote from happening. Once it does, the Senate will then go about stripping out the Obamacare provision and sending a clean CR back to the House, and we'll be right back where we started.

Of course, that won't stop Cruz from tossing a great big heaping dose of red meat to his base for the next several hours while making sure he gets plenty of play on tonight's cable news shows—a time-tested move that recent, actual talking filibusters from Wendy Davis and Rand Paul suggest will translate to serious fundraising cash sooner than later.

This post has been updated for clarity.

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