Where Ted Cruz's Fake Filibuster Would Rank in History If It Were a Real Filibuster

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Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 25 2013 12:13 PM

Where Ted Cruz's Fake Filibuster Would Rank If It Were a Real Filibuster

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) leaves after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Committee luncheon September 24, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Again, Sen. Ted Cruz's marathon speech that wrapped up at noon Wednesday after more than 21 hours was not technically a talking filibuster. While the Texas Republican vowed to talk until he was "no longer able to stand," Cruz faced a more concrete deadline to yield the floor at noon regardless of how his body was holding up. Still, for those wondering, here's how Cruz's epic talkathon would have ranked if it would have been a real-life talking filibuster of the kind made famous by Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

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

The 10 longest U.S. Senate filibusters since the upper chamber began keeping detailed records in 1900, via the Associated Press (duration; senator; issue; year):

1.) 24 hours, 18 minutes: Strom Thurmond, civil rights bill, 1957.
2.) 23:30: Alfonse D'Amato, military bill, 1986.
3.) 22:26: Wayne Morse, Tidelands oil bill, 1953.
[Cruz held the floor for more than 21 hours.]
4.) 18:23: Robert La Follette Sr., currency bill, 1908.
5.) 16:12: William Proxmire, debt increase, 1981.
6.) 15:30: Huey Long, La., industrial recovery, 1935.
7.) 15:14: D'Amato, tax bill, 1992.
8.) 14:13: Robert Byrd, civil rights bill, 1964.
9.) 12:52: Rand Paul, use of drones against American citizens, 2013.
10.) 8:39: Harry Reid, protesting a Republican-led filibuster, 2003.

Under Senate rules, Cruz was allowed to yield to colleagues for long-form questions—something he did several times during the course of his marathon speech—but could not leave the floor or sit down while his effort was under way. (Paul's filibuster from earlier this year, like many before his, was ultimately halted by nature's inevitable call. For more on how Thurmond managed to last as long as he did, head here.)

This post has been updated.


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