WASHINGTON, D.C., September 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Senator Ted Cruz ended his historic, 21-hour speech against ObamaCare as he began it: with a plea for the Congress to defund a program that he says kills jobs, violates conscience, and is increasingly unpopular with the American people.
Cruz gave the speech – which ran 21 hours and 19 minutes – to fend off a vote of cloture that would effectively kill a House bill to deprive the president's health care reform bill of its funding.
The Texas senator began speaking at about 2:40 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and concluded just after noon on Wednesday.
Although he wore a pair of tennis shoes rather than his usual “argument boots,” the arguments flowed freely.
“I intend to speak in favor of defunding ObamaCare until I am no longer able to stand,” he said. “The American people want to stop this madness, and so do I.”
“I fully, I enthusiastically support defunding ObamaCare. Indeed, I am leading the fight,” he said.
Much of his 21+ hours speaking were spent critiquing the leadership of his own party in the U.S. Senate, which had openly indicated its displeasure with his speech.
“If those members of this conference want to disagree with this strategy and say, ‘We agree with Harry Reid’ … then let them say so openly, not cloaked in robes of procedural deception obscurity,” Cruz stated. “That is not being honest with the American people.”
He reminded his listeners of the bill's lack of popularity. A recent Pew Research Poll found that 53 percent of Americans oppose the ObamaCare law.
That opposition has hardened as employers have cut back hours or dropped health care coverage altogether as the state health care exchanges are scheduled to begin enrolling customers on October 1.
“We don’t work for the lobbyists with tasseled loafers who walk the halls, but the single mom working in the diner,” Cruz said.
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In addition to killing jobs, the law's controversial HHS mandate requiring employers to furnish women with abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception without a co-pay has galvanized much of the religious community in opposition to the president's signature legislative accomplishment.
Although not technically a filibuster, Cruz's all-nighter ranks as the fourth longest speech in the history of the U.S. Senate.
Like other speeches of that marathon length, Cruz's speech included some unusual elements, including reading Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham to his daughters over C-SPAN and trying out a Darth Vader impression.
In time, his GOP colleagues joined him by asking questions, allowing Cruz to pause and relax for a moment. Among them was Sen. Rand Paul, returning the favor after Cruz assisted during his own filibuster to draw attention to President Obama's use of drones. “The president wants what he wants – ObamaCare as he passed it with only Democrats,” Paul said, “or he'll shut down the government.”
Other Senators who spoke up included Cruz's close ally Mike Lee of Utah, as well as Marco Rubio, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Mike Enzi of Wyoming.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Cruz must stop speaking around 12 p.m.
“The frustration that the U.S. Senate doesn't listen to the people is deafening,” Cruz said in his concluding moments just after noon. “I would call for all 46 Republicans to unite and stand against cloture on the bill.”
Reid immediately called Cruz's speech “a big waste of time” designed to fuel the GOP's Tea Party wing's “new anarchy.”
Immediately after the cut-off, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who opposed the filibuster, praised his Texas colleague.
Meanwhile, Cruz had moved on to a larger audience: Rush Limbaugh's on talk radio.
Just after 1 p.m., he repeated many of the themes of his speech for Limbaugh's army of conservative listeners.
He implored journalists to quit acting like “Hollywood gossip columnists” and spend “50 percent of what you write discuss[ing] how ObamaCare is the greatest job killer in the United States.”
He also addressed criticisms that he was too much of a loose cannon.
“I have an obligation, not to my colleagues, but to my 26 million constituents,” he said. “None of us were elected by party leadership, we got a different boss. Our boss is the American people.”
“Unfortunately, there's an alliance between the Democrats…and the Republicans,” Cruz told Limbaugh, with both sides seeking to preserve the status quo.
“The single biggest surprise in arriving in the Senate is the defeatist attitude here,” he said.
“Much of what the Senate does is engage in show votes,” he added, saying they were, like professional wrestling matches, “entirely fixed.”
His frank talk and open rebellion has opened a rift with old-liners like McConnell and John McCain, who famously called Cruz, Paul, and Rep. Justin Amash “wacko birds.”
New York Times house conservative David Brooks said Cruz's actions are “very bad for the leadership. And so, eventually, I think they are going to have to have a confrontation, and they’re going to have show who’s boss.”
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace revealed that Hill Republicans had taken the unusual tactic of sending him opposition research on Ted Cruz.
Limbaugh called on the Republican establishment to take another response: to follow Cruz in fully defunding ObamaCare.
“The real question,” Limbaugh said, “is what is the Republican establishment afraid of?”