WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2013— -- Sen. Ted Cruz's all-night talk-a-thon on the need to defund Obamacare finally ended today, clocking in at 21 hours and 19 minutes.
"This was all about elevating the debate in the public and giving the American people the chance to speak," Cruz told ABC News after his marathon speech. "At this point, the debate is in the hands of the American people."
After starting at 2:41 p.m. Tuesday, Cruz wrapped up at noon today when the Senate day adjourned. Reid had offered to allow the Texas Republican senator to continue speaking until 1 p.m., but Cruz declined the offer because he wanted to be granted unlimited time to speak.
"Although I am weary, there is still at least strength in my legs to stand a little longer," Cruz said.
The Senate cleared its first procedural vote to consider the continuing resolution today with a vote of 100-0. Cruz, who voted in favor of cloture on the motion to proceed today, is urging his Republican colleagues to vote against cloture (or ending debate) on the actual spending measure, a vote that will likely occur Friday.
Cruz pulled the all-nighter in the U.S. Senate as he advocated for the defunding of Obamacare into the wee hours of the morning.
Wearing black tennis shoes for comfort, the senator said on the Senate floor, "I will say standing here after 14 hours, standing on your feet, there's sometimes some pain, sometimes some fatigue that is involved.
"But you know what? There's far more pain involved in rolling over, far more pain in hiding in the shadows, far more pain in not standing for principle, not standing for the good, not standing for integrity."
Senate rules required Cruz, 42, to stand throughout his speech but allowed him to yield to questions from other senators. Several Republican senators, including Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., helped Cruz with his speech at various points throughout the night. Even Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., chimed in with questions for the Texas senator.
Around 3:33 a.m. this morning, Cruz beat the record for the longest speech this year, a record previously held by Paul, who filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director for 12 hours and 52 minutes last March.
After the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution, which strips Obamacare of its funding last week, Cruz vowed to use every procedural measure possible, including a filibuster, to keep the Senate from restoring the funding.
But Cruz's overnight speech was technically not a filibuster and won't do much to delay or prevent the votes. The Senate is operating in "auto-pilot" mode and will hold its first procedural vote on the continuing resolution later this afternoon.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was expected to introduce an amendment at some point that would restore the funding of Obamacare to the continuing resolution, tweeted after Cruz's speech ended:
A final vote on passage of the stop-gap spending measure is expected to come late Sunday if all the time for debate is used.
This leaves the House of Representatives with less than a day to work on the continuing resolution before the Oct. 1 deadline at which point the government would shut down.
Cruz used his marathon session to make the case for why the Affordable Care Act should be defunded in the continuing resolution. He has repeatedly called Obamacare a "train wreck" and read tweets from constituents praising him for his commitment to the issue.
But at times, his speech turned playful as he read his daughters a bedtime story through C-SPAN.
"I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am," Cruz said quoting Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham."
Cruz even quoted popular television show "Duck Dynasty" and the lyrics of Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue."
"Jeff said 'Faith, family and facial hair,'" Cruz said as he quoted "Duck Dynasty." "I point out to the junior senator from Utah, if we continue doing this long enough, we may have facial hair on the floor of the Senate."