|Cruz Speaks Against Obamacare Until 'No Longer Able To Stand'|
|Arlette Saenz||Sep 24, 2013, 2:58 PM|
Senate TV/AP Photo
On Tuesday at 2:41 p.m., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., took the Senate floor to protest a government funding bill that funds President Obama's signature health care reform law. He plans to talk - and talk - all afternoon and possibly all evening long.
"I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand," Cruz said Monday afternoon.
But make no mistake: What Cruz is doing is not filibuster. And this is not his Mr. Smith goes to Washington moment.
Cruz cannot block legislation. He doesn't have enough support - even from his fellow Republicans. Most of his party has abandoned his effort to wage a filibuster, largely because of worries about shutting down the government. Senate rules dictate that the Senate must adjourn by noon on Wednesday. At that point, the Senate then will reconvene and start its cloture vote on the motion to proceed on the continuing resolution.
This is largely a made-for-cable-TV demonstration. The Texas Republican can't talk more than 15 hours, according to the Senate's rules. Cruz's aides won't say how long he'll speak, but one Republican leadership source suggested he might go on only long enough to reach the prime time audience on Fox News Channel.
So what happens next? The Senate will go through a series of procedural votes, with a final vote expected on Sunday to keep the government running. Then, the bill goes back to the House, where the clock is ticking. The government runs out of money after Sept. 30.
Earlier this year, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., launched a filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. Paul received some help from his colleagues who spoke for him, but he never left the floor for 12 hours and 52 minutes, when finally nature called. The longest speech on the Senate floor occurred in 1957, when Sen. Strom Thurmond filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes.
Paul went to the Senate floor Tuesday to bestow some advice upon Cruz when when it comes to speaking for long periods of time on the Senate floor.
"Senators don't always ask for advice. I thought I'd come down and make sure you have comfortable shoes on…try not to eat on television," Paul said on the Senate floor. "That's a little bit of free advice."
Before going on the Senate floor today, Paul tweeted, "I might try to sneak him some candy." During his filibuster in March, Paul was caught on camera eating a candy bar while speaking.
Cruz said that after Paul's filibuster in March, he remembered the Kentucky Republican saying he regretted not wearing comfortable shoes. Cruz normally wears a pair of black ostrich cowboy boots, which he calls his "argument boots", but that's not the case today.
"I will embarrassingly admit that I took the coward's way out and went and purchased some black tennis shoes," Cruz said. "I am not in my argument boots, and I'll confess I really do feel embarrassed by that."
ABC News is curating a list of Sen. Cruz's most memorable lines: