Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s speech may not be remembered by historians for its oratorical flourishes as for its passages from Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” and quotes from the reality show “Duck Dynasty.”
It came close to making history for its length.
Cruz, 42, wrapped up at noon today his U.S. Senate floor speech protesting Obamacare that began yesterday at 2:41 p.m. He filled the time by reading Internet messages posted on Twitter, talking about his dad and discussing his affinity for White Castle hamburgers.
“I like their little burgers,” he said yesterday.
With the Senate scheduled to vote on advancing the spending bill at 1 p.m., Cruz’s overture lasted 21 hours and 19 minutes.
That’s the fourth-longest speech in Senate history. The longest since 1900 was the 24 hours, 18 minutes that the late Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, then a Democrat, spoke in opposition of the 1957 Civil Rights Act.
Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, spoke for almost 13 hours in March to oppose John Brennan’s nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Cruz’s performance evoked Jimmy Stewart’s role in the 1939 film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” when the fictional Jefferson Smith collapses from exhaustion on the Senate floor after almost 24 hours.
Cruz had vowed to do “everything necessary and anything possible” to thwart action on the spending measure as a way to end funding for the health-care law. A college debate champ, he took to the floor after failing to convince his colleagues.
“I don’t believe there’s been a day on the Senate floor when I haven’t worn my argument boots,” Cruz, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said yesterday about his signature black boots. “So I had a choice with which I was confronted: Do I follow through and wear my argument boots or do I...go with more comfortable shoes?”
Cruz chose to wear black tennis shoes.
“He thinks he’s starring in a movie,” Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said today about Cruz on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “It’s all kind of about him.”
Cruz’s stonewalling kept the Senate from moving up a vote on a bill that he supports: a House-passed spending measure that chokes off funding to implement President Barack Obama’s health-care law. Democrats who control the Senate are expected to erase the part of the measure that ends funding for the Obama program.
Technically, Cruz’s speech wasn’t a filibuster, which would block the Senate from acting. Cruz was limited by the chamber’s rules that cap his time because a vote had been set for later today on advancing the measure.