Cruz’s Marathon Floor Speech: Live Updates

by Andrew Johnson & Sterling Beard

UPDATE: 1:07 p.m. As Cruz left the Capitol building after more than 21 hours, NBC News’ Luke Russert took it upon himself to make issue of the car the Texas senator left in:

UPDATE: 12:06 p.m. Cruz’s marathon speech came to an end after 21 hours and 19 minutes and was met with a round of applause from supporters.

“I simply want to note to the American people who have so engaged, this debate is in your hands,” he concluded as he made a final plea to Senate Republicans to oppose voting for cloture on the continuing resolution to defund Obamacare.

On his website, Rush Limbaugh announced that Cruz will be on his show this afternoon.

UPDATE: 11:40 a.m. Cruz proposed to promulgate three unanimous consent requests. The first was to scuttle the cloture vote on the continuing resolution and agree on the motion to proceed. The second request he floated was to shorten post-cloture debate so cloture could occur on Friday rather than on Saturday, when Cruz said the vote on the bill would be more visible. Finally, saying that “there is still at least strength in my legs to stand a little longer,” Cruz requested to continue speaking past noon, when the legislative day begins, to the conclusion of his remarks.

Cruz then went on to thank by name those “who have endured this Bataan Death March.”

UPDATE: 11:26 a.m. In a tense exchange with the rested Dick Durbin, Ted Cruz sparred with the Illinois Democrat over as Cruz approached his 21st hour on the floor.

Durbin repeatedly tried to push Cruz to answer whether he and his family was covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefit programs in an effort to argue that the American people who aren’t covered through their employers should have an alternative option under Obamacare. After wrangling for a few exchanges, Cruz surprised Durbin by saying that while he is eligible for the coverage under the program, he and his family are not covered by that plan.

Cruz said Durbin was illustrating that Congress’ exemption from Obamacare was unfair to the American people, as members of Congress were unwilling to subject themselves to the health-care law.

UPDATE: 11:09 a.m. C-SPAN offered an interesting contrast between Ted Cruz’s brief time in the Senate and Barack Obama’s:

UPDATE: 10:19 a.m. As Cruz approaches his 20th hour on the floor, senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and David Vitter of Louisiana have rejoined Cruz in the last hour; both Inhofe and Vitter spoke last night in support of the Texas senator’s efforts.

UPDATE: 9:24 a.m. Justin Green at the Washington Examiner pointed out that Cruz’s marathon speech is notably absent from the front pages of the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other national newspapers.


UPDATE: 8:42 a.m. “The people who gave you Obamacare are not bad people — they have big hearts, I think, but sometimes not-so-big brains,” Paul said when Cruz yielded to the Kentucky senator for a question. Paul argued that while supporters of the health-care law may have good motives, it will ultimately hurt “the people it intended to help.”

Paul also quipped that if “Obamacare is such a great thing, you’d think you could give it away.” “This is something that’s going to be free, and they’re having trouble giving it away,” he said.

UPDATE: 8:10 a.m. “I would be perfectly happy if not a single story coming out of this mentioned my name,” Cruz said in response to a question by Pat Roberts. Cruz explained that he expected the media would look to characterize his efforts as self-serving and personality-driven, but that he rejected that portrayal.

​”Look, the New York Times wants to spill gallons ink on personalities, on people, on politics, on anything except the substance,” he said. “I would be thrilled if the coverage focused on the substance instead of the distraction that is the silliness of the back and forth.”

UPDATE: 7:53 a.m. Cruz pulled an all-nighter and has just passed the 17-hour mark, putting him in the top-5 longest floor speeches. Overnight, the Texas senator continued to read tweets from supporters and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, as well as citing “words of wisdom” from Duck Dynasty and country star Toby Keith.

Cruz was joined by Senator Mike Lee for most of the night; at one point, Lee and Cruz highlighted the misnomer of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Shortly after 6 a.m., Marco Rubio rejoined Cruz, followed by Pat Roberts (R., Kan.); both Rubio and Roberts spoke in support of Cruz yesterday.

UPDATE1:25 a.m. Cruz has been at it for now than ten hours now, and just spent a good deal of time talking about the religious-liberty implications of Obamcare and its contraception mandate. The senator read out a testimony from Hobby Lobby, a large retail chain owned by devout evangelicals who refuse to comply with the mandate that’s currently contesting the law in federal court. Cruz then moved on to other instances of the Obama administration and the federal government’s abuses of religious liberty, including its hostility toward military chaplains. That led him to recounting the amazing story of the USAT Dorchester, a WWII troop ship sunk by a U-Boat, on which four chaplains — one Catholic, two Protestant, and one Jewish — gave up their lifejackets to other sailors, ministered to them, and went down with the ship. It’s been a long night.

UPDATE: 10:50 p.m. Democratic senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut wasn’t pleased that he had to head into the Capitol to preside over the Senate session:

UPDATE: 9:15 p.m. The first Democrat to speak up, Dick Durbin, entered the debate, asking Cruz if he believes the government should shut down if Obamacare is not defunded.

“I do not believe we should shut down the federal government,” Cruz said. “The only reason we might shut down the federal government is if President Obama and Majority Leader Reid decide they want to force a government shutdown.”

Durbin asked Cruz if he believed he had the votes to accomplish his goal, noting that the Texas senator’s Ivy League credentials suggest he’d know how far he is from the number of votes necessary for victory.

“I thank the senator for the comment he has made in public noting that, having attended the schools I have, that perhaps I hadn’t learned to count to 60,” Cruz parried. “I will note that I am quite familiar with what is necessary to defund Obamacare.”

UPDATE: 8:20 p.m. Cruz took a moment to read his daughters, Catherine and Caroline, a pair of bedtime stories from the Senate floor: “King Solomon’s Wise Words” and Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

After he finished reading the latter, Cruz compared the debate over Obamacare to Seuss’s classic.

Americans “did not like Obamacare in a box, with a fox, in a house or with a mouse,” Cruz said, drawing laughs.

Jason Johnson, the Chief Strategist of Ted Cruz for US Senate, tweeted a picture of the daughters listening to their father.


UPDATE7:40 p.m. Cruz read a long list of organizations, including restaurants and universities, that have cut workers’ hours because of Obamacare’s mandate that large employers provide health insurance to employees that worked 30 hours or more per week. 

“It’s all over the country. It’s every state,” Cruz said. 

 UPDATE7:15 p.m. Cruz read tweets with the hashtag #DefundObamacareBecause and advertised another hashtag, #MakeDCListen.

Cruz mentioned that during Rand Paul’s March filibuster, he also read tweets, which had the #StandWithRand hashtag. Cruz said that he was, to his own knowledge, the first person to read tweets on the Senate floor and joked that he believed he will eventually be an answer in “some obscure political-geek Trivial Pursuit game.”

UPDATE: 7:10 p.m. Mike Lee said the continuing resolution should receive an up-or-down vote or undergo an open amendment process.

“What is not acceptable is what many have suggested will occur,” Lee said. “Many have suggested that the majority leader will bring up this bill . . . and subject it to one and only one amendment. An amendment that would strip out . . . the provision defunding Obamacare.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid “wants that amendment and no other,” Lee said.

UPDATE: 6:52 p.m. Referencing his and Ted Cruz’s shared Cuban heritage, Marco Rubio warned that the health-care law is reminiscent of the large-scale government programs in the country that both of their parents fled from. He went on to say that Obamacare will ultimately “hurt the people that are trying to make it” more than it will large corporations that can lobby for an exemption or cover the rising costs of coverage.

“The very people they said this plan, this bill, this idea would help are the very people it’s hurting the most,” Rubio passionately argued. “I know Big Government sounds appealing sometimes . . . the problem is it never works.”

“Anytime and everywhere it has ever been tried, it has failed, and it will fail again,” he said.

UPDATE: 5:53 p.m. Jeff Sessions joined the filibuster, and pledged his support to Cruz’s effort. Sessions was not part of Mike Lee’s original letter in support of the defunding strategy. The Alabama Republican didn’t say earlier in the day how he would vote on cloture tomorrow.

UPDATE: 5:53 p.m. Cruz mocked socialized health care, saying “you’re going to have to wait six months, you’re going to have to wait a year or, you know what, a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Whatchamacallit has determined you don’t get that treatment.”

“That’s what has happened in every socialized-medicine country in the world,” Cruz said. 

UPDATE: 5:50 p.m. Senator Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) has joined the filibuster. Roberts said that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and President Obama “have all said, publicly, the Affordable Health-care Act [sic] is the first step to a single-payer system.”

“Is this not the first step toward socialized healthcare? And is stopping socialized healthcare worth pulling out all of the stops and fighting the fight?,” he asked.

“You are exactly right,” Cruz answered.

Cruz’s marathon floor speech has entered its third hour.

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m. Rand Paul asked Cruz if he will be willing to accept a compromise if he is unable to defund Obamacare.

Cruz said he wouldn’t because he has publicly committed that he will not vote for a continuing resolution that funds one penny of the health-care law.

UPDATE: 5:30 p.m. Rand Paul has now joined the conversation. He briefly asked Cruz what his intentions are. 

UPDATE: 5:28 p.m. Cruz revealed that some Democratic senators have privately told him that they are concerned about the effects of Obamacare, but are “publicly cheering for their team” by supporting the law. 

UPDATE: 5:13 p.m. Ted Cruz has started reading letters from constituents and citizens from other states about the impact Obamacare regulations are having on their personal finances and businesses.

UPDATE: 4:50 p.m. Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), put in an appearance on Fox News earlier. Neil Cavuto asked him about his response to those who said that he and Cruz were fighting a losing battle. 

“If we don’t try, nothing will happen,” Lee said. “We have no guarantee that this will work, but we do have a guarantee that it won’t work if we don’t try.”

UPDATE: 4:43 p.m. The Hill reports that Senator Rand Paul will, in fact, join Cruz on the Senate floor later today to offer “reinforcements.” The announcement comes after a report that Paul opposed Cruz’s tactics. The Kentucky senator also tweeted the following:

UPDATE: 4:33 p.m. Cruz offered a prediction as he approaches the third hour of his marathon session on the Senate floor: as Obamacare continues to roll out, more interest groups will receive exemptions, including labor unions. Cruz warned that the healthcare law will become one just “the little people” who don’t have someone to lobby on their behalf.

UPDATE: 4:07 p.m. A third senator has joined in Cruz’s “super-speech,” as some are now dubbing it. Senator David Vitter (R., La.) chimed in to ask Cruz a question.

UPDATE: 4:01 p.m. According to NBC News, the most recent senator to stage a filibuster wasn’t all in on Cruz’s efforts. Capitol Hill reporter Kelly O’Donnell tweets that Rand Paul opposed Cruz’s “no” vote tactic in a private meeting.

UPDATE: 3:38 p.m. Cruz yielded to Mike Lee of Utah for a question just short of an hour into his speech. Cruz began his remarks at approximately 2:41 p.m.

UPDATE: 3:32 p.m. Cruz argued that if senators would only listen to their constituents, including Democrats, the vote to defund Obamacare would be 100–0. He called on all 46 Republicans, along with a few Democrats, to join in voting against cloture and continuing debate.

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. A technicality: As cloture has already been filed, Cruz will be speaking for a maximum of 15 hours. Senate rules dictate that the body must adjourn by noon on Wednesday. This will likely be a long speech, but it cannot block legislation.

UPDATE: 2:48 p.m. “I intend to speak until I can no longer stand,” Cruz said in his opening remarks of his filibuster, in an effort delay a cloture vote on the continuing resolution to defund Obamacare. Cruz was joined by his partner in his effort to defund Obamacare, Utah senator Mike Lee. Cruz has already played on the theme to “make DC listen” early on in his remarks and his Twitter account has started using the #MakeDCListen hashtag.

A Republican Senate source tells NRO’s Betsy Woodruff that Texas senator Ted Cruz will mount a “talking filibuster” this afternoon to stop a cloture vote on the continuing resolution that would defund Obamacare, which is set to come up for a vote tomorrow. Cruz is expected to begin the filibuster shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Asked how long he’ll keep it up for, Cruz said, “We’ll see.”

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