Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., complained that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wasted time with his 21-hour filibuster attack on Obamacare just moments after declining Cruz's request to expedite the vote to end debate on the continuing resolution.
"It has been a big waste of time," Reid said on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. "The government is set to shut down in a matter of hours. In just a few days, government will close, and it's a shame we're standing here having wasted perhaps two days --- [most of] yesterday and a good part of today day --- when we need to pass [the continuing resolution] very quickly and send it back to the House of Representatives."
Moments earlier, Reid said that Cruz had not staged a real filibuster. He first made the statement Tuesday afternoon as Cruz prepared to take the floor for his lengthy criticism of Obamacare.
"There's no filibuster going on now," Reid told reporters Tuesday. "People can come and talk, but they can't do anything to change when we vote."
Here's the procedural background: There are two cloture votes before the final vote on whether the Senate will pass the continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare, which the House already passed. Cruz arranged to speak for as long as possible; the Senate rules allow for up to 30 hours of debate after cloture is filed, but the senators sometimes agree unanimously to shorten that debate. Because Cruz opted to object, though, he extended the debate to the full 30 hours. Once those 30 hours concluded, though, he had to yield the floor whenever Reid decided to call the vote.
Reid explicitly conceded that Cruz had lengthened the process. "We could finish this bill in a matter of hours, but instead we find ourselves being pushed closer and closer to another shutdown," he said.
Is it not a little inconsistent to complain that Cruz delayed a vote while pointing out that he didn't delay the vote? Granted, his speech couldn't indefinitely delay the vote. On the other hand, no talking filibuster indefinitely delays the vote. By the time a senator is to the point of a talking filibuster, there's practically no way to win. That senator will lose whenever the pressures of living in a mortal human body force him or her to surrender the Senate floor. So Reid's comment amounted to a semantic game designed to make the Image of Cruz standing on the Senate floor for 21 hours a little less compelling to reporters or any other Americans watching.
The point of a talking filibuster is to call attention to an issue, not achieve a decisive policy victory. In keeping with that goal, Cruz ended his performance today by asking that the second cloture vote --- the one that would end debate on the continuing resolution (today's vote officially began the debate) --- take place on Friday. Cruz explained that he thought he would have a greater chance of succeeding if the Senate voted during the work week rather than on Saturday, when most true patriots are watching college football.
Reid objected to moving up the vote to end debate, despite his stated concern that they won't have time before the government is scheduled to run out of money to debate whatever bill the House responds with after the Senate strips out the language to defund Obamacare.