Topics: Obamacare

After more than 21 hours, Ted Cruz wraps up filibuster against funding health care law

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wrapped up a filibuster-style speaking marathon on the Senate floor in protest of funding for Obamacare after 21 hours and 19 minutes.

Cruz yielded the floor at noon, when the new legislative day was scheduled to begin.

Cruz walked out of the east door and confronted a throng of reporters and photographers, launching into the talking points that carried him through Tuesday night.

"What this debate was fundamentally about was whether Washington was going to listen to the American people," Cruz said

"Obamacare isn't working," Cruz said. "When you get outside Washington, Republicans agree on that, Democrats agree on that, independents agree on that. Obamacare is the biggest job killer in this country."

The all-night talkfest was not a filibuster in the true sense. He had to relinquish the floor because Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had already scheduled a 1 p.m. vote on the resolution Cruz was protesting.

Cruz still calls his protest a filibuster and said he hopes it would help "frame the debate" on the health care law, which many Republicans want to defund in order to block its implementation.

While most Republicans want to block the new law, the party is split on how to accomplish that goal. Cruz wants the Senate GOP to vote against a stopgap government funding bill because it will include money for Obamacare. But most Senate Republicans were reluctant to back Obamacare defunding effort that could lead to an Oct. 1 government shutdown. Republicans say they will be blamed for shuttering the government, which would be politically disastrous.

Only a fraction of GOP lawmakers helped Cruz during his 21-plus hours, including many of the Senate's most conservative Republicans and those with Tea Party backing. Joining Cruz on the floor were Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, David Vitter of Louisiana and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

A few House members showed up to support Cruz, including Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who stayed in the Senate all night while Cruz talked.

Before Cruz yielded the floor, he asked Reid if he could keep talking after the new legislative day began with a 1 p.m. vote on the resolution. Cruz had pledged to keep talking "until I can stand no more." But Reid wouldn't allow it.

Cruz also asked if the Senate's vote to end debate on the measure could take place on Friday rather than Saturday, so the vote would be "visible to the American people," not be buried "in the middle of football games on Saturday."

This marks the second lengthy filibuster this year by a GOP newcomer.

In March, Paul talked for nearly 13 hours, delaying a confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan until the White House would provide information on the nation's drone strike policy. The White House ultimately consented.

On Wednesday, Paul praised the Cruz filibuster.

"I think it draws a lot of attention to a bad law," Paul said, "and we need to keep it up."

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