A short-term funding bill has generated plenty of drama in Congress, and that drama played out on the Senate floor Tuesday and Wednesday, as Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas gave one of the longest Senate speeches since record-keeping began. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.
Twenty-one hours and 19 minutes. That's how long Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas seized control of the Senate floor, passionately arguing his case for defunding President Barack Obama's health care law.
"This is a fight for the millions of men and women who are facing a stagnant economy, who are facing jobs that are drying up or disappearing altogether," Cruz said.
Cruz was trying to delay a Senate vote on a House-passed government funding bill that strips funding from Obamacare. The Democratic-controlled Senate plans to remove that provision.
During his two-day talkathon, which was technically not a filibuster, Cruz made references to Star Wars and actor Ashton Kutcher, and even read from a Dr. Seuss book.
"Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them Sam I Am. I do not like green eggs and ham," Cruz said.
Cruz's efforts helped boost his standing among Tea Party conservatives, but it also annoyed some of his fellow Republicans, and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York accused him of taking the country hostage.
"Don't hold the social security recipient hostage. Don't hold the road worker hostage. Don't hold the person who depends on inspectors who inspect or food or control our borders hostage," Schumer said.
As Sen. Cruz left the Capitol Wednesday, he said off-camera that he felt terrific after his marathon floor speech.
"It is energizing to see the American people have an opportunity to get engaged in the debate, and I hope my colleagues do the right thing and listen to the American people," Cruz said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate unanimously agreed to moved forward with debate on the bill. Senators are expected to send it back to the House without the provision to defund Obamacare as the clock ticks toward a possible government shutdown.