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STANDING ON PRINCIPLE
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 24, 2013) — Having begun a filibuster on the Senate floor at 2:41 p.m. EDT, Sen. Ted Cruz continued to speak as of 10:20 p.m.
Coverage has been courtesy of C-Span. Outside of that, news of the status of Cruz’s filibuster was difficult to find this evening.
Over the weekend, Cruz had vowed to speak in order to delay a vote on cloture on a measure to fund the government and Obamacare.
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to maintain government functions which included no funding for Obamacare. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes Cruz’s plan to attempt to avoid a cloture vote, with Sens. John McCain and John Cornyn having publicly opposed the filibuster plan.
Cornyn had previously supported a repeal of Obamacare.
At 10:22 p.m., Sen. Mike Lee, who, along with Cruz, led a campaign to defund Obamacare over the summer, is speaking. Lee said that despite the name “Affordable Care Act,” the health care law known colloquially as Obamacare will actually make health care more expensive and has resulted in fewer hours for many employees. Lee said that the implementation of Obamacare will make changes to health care “fundamentally unfair” and said that he has already seen such changes in his home state of Utah.
Lee and Cruz are serving their first respective terms in the Senate. While on the floor, Lee said that he expects the Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and “53 Democrats” to vote for cloture on the funding measure.
The Senate plans to remove the provision which defunds Obamacare and hold a vote as early as Wednesday, after which the Senate bill would go back to the House for a vote.
“How many of us will have to see our hours cut?” Lee asked. “The House of Representatives did act…the branch within Congress that is most responsive…acted…” he said.
“The ball is in our court,” Lee said of the Senate.
At 10:33 p.m., Cruz regained the floor from Lee. At 10:35, he said that each senator should “Stand by what you believe.”
Some Republicans are reportedly “fearful” of a government shutdown which could result if the House bill and Senate bills cannot be reconciled.
Cruz had vowed to continue speaking on the Senate floor “until he can no longer stand.” He spoke of Americans “losing their health insurance” as a result of Obamacare and said that Obama is dedicated to his principles of government solutions and “redistribution of wealth.”
Cruz decried politicians who worry more about their political future than about what voters want. “It shouldn’t be complicated to do what you say. It shouldn’t be complicated to stand up for your principles,” he said. “We could end this debate tonight…we could end this debate right now if the Majority Leader…would be if he would continue to pass the Continuing Resolution to fund the government and defund Obamacare,” he said.
At times, Cruz directed himself to Harry Reid.
He discussed gun control and mental health briefly.
Cruz criticized the 60-vote “threshold” needed for many votes and the 51-vote majority that will be able to pass the Senate version of the spending bill in the coming days.
He criticized other Republicans who avoid “risk” by refusing to stand on principle as well as Harry Reid and Obama for possibly being willing to shut down the government from a lack of agreement on the spending bill.
“It is true that Republicans can’t win on this if they don’t stand together,” Cruz said. He called upon “all 46” Republicans to vote “no” on cloture.
He often referred to Obamacare as “a train wreck,” as has Speaker of the House John Boehner and Sen. Max Baucus, who is retiring after the 2014 election.
Cruz said that calls to his office “literally went 100 to 1” against a military strike on Syria, which Obama had begun to push in late August, changing direction only after Russian President Vladimir Putin interjected himself as a mediator between the U.S. and Syria to convince Syria to give up its chemical weapons.
“The more people who spoke up, the more people in this chamber began listening,” Cruz said. He praised Obama for “listening to the American people” on Syria and “stopping the Syria attack,” implying that the same thing could be done regarding Obamacare if Republicans unite against it.
Cruz began to speak about the constitutional “separation of powers” at 10:56 p.m.
During Cruz’s and Lee’s time on the floor, Twitter comments were posted to hashtag #StandwithCruz at 20 per minute.
Update, September 25, 2013: Fox News reported on Wednesday that Cruz is still speaking on the Senate floor. Cruz’s address, which began yesterday at 2:41 p.m., is not an official filibuster because Harry Reid has set a 12:00 noon end time for the session.