News Column

Ted Cruz, Allies Keep Talking to Delay Vote to Fund Government

September 25, 2013

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, stretched his attack on the Affordable Care Act into Wednesday morning with oratory that included bedtime stories for his daughters.

The freshman senator began his marathon discourse Tuesday afternoon, pledging to speak against including any funds to what is colloquially called "Obamacare" in any measure to keep the government operating after the end of the fiscal year "until I am no longer able to stand," The Washington Post reported.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, spelled Cruz around midnight and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., gave Cruz a break as Wednesday dawned. While Cruz could yield to colleagues he could not leave the floor or sit.

But Cruz -- who compared his fight to history's efforts by those who stood against the Nazis and those who started the American Revolution -- lacks support from senior lawmakers in his own party, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas.

No matter how long he talks, the Senate, by rule, will vote no later than 1 p.m. Wednesday on the first in a series of procedural measures on a House stopgap spending bill that would do what Cruz wants -- fund the government from Tuesday through mid-December while defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Democratic leaders, however, are poised to counter last week's House vote by excising the defunding provision from the stopgap measure and ship their version to the House with little time for Republicans to change it -- which is why senior Senate Republicans pushed Cruz to give up his stalling tactics and let the Senate take its final votes as soon as possible.

While an earlier vote would give House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, more time to plan his next move, Cruz's marathon speaking would force the Senate to exhaust the time allowed for the necessary votes, pushing a final vote until Sunday, The Post said. The fiscal year -- and the government's funding unless a stopgap measure that will be signed by President Obama clears Congress -- ends Monday.

By 5 a.m. Wednesday, the Cruz discussion passed the filibuster delivered by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in March. In 1964, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W. Va., delivered a filibuster that lasted about 14 hours.

Cruz's topics were varied: song lyrics by country music star Toby Keith; excerpts from Ayn Rand "Atlas Shrugged," a favorite among libertarians; observations about the Denny's, Benihana and White Castle restaurants and the reading of bedtime stories to his two daughters he said were at his Texas home watching television with his wife.

As time marched on, Cruz began leaning more on the podium at his desk, the Post said. As a reminder of his purpose, a message of a sticky note reminded him: "Yield only for the purpose of a question. Be careful!"

Cruz, just nine months into office, is hoisting the banner for conservatives by adopting an unyielding approach in confronting the president over ACA funding, even if it means a government shutdown. The move, however, has angered senior Republicans, who say Cruz and others who adopt this take-no-prisoners strategy fail to understand what happened to the GOP during shutdown battles with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s when Republicans controlled the House and Senate.

During the overnight hours, Lee told a nearly empty Senate chamber early Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court "unconstitutionally" overstepped its authority in upholding the constitutionality of most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"The Constitution was defiled" when the Supreme Court said the healthcare-overhaul requirement requiring most Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty was constitutional, said Lee, a former constitutional lawyer.

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Source: Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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