If conservatives are looking for someone to stand up and fight Obamacare, no matter the odds, then Sen. Ted Cruz is delivering that fight right now.
Since a little after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Texas Republican has been speaking continuously on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Since about 3 p.m., he has been joined by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Together the two conservative stalwarts have been making the case against Obamacare for more than 17 hours.
No announcement has been made yet, Cruz has only said he will speak till his feet give out, but it appears both senators will speak up until noon Wednesday, when Senate rules will force them to give the floor back to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Is it a filibuster?
If Cruz does hold the floor for that long, it will be the fourth-longest Senate speech ever, just behind that of Sen. Wayne Morse, R-Ore., who held the floor for 22 hours and 30 minutes in 1953, and ahead of Sen. Robert La Follette, R-Wis., who spoke for almost 19 hours.
There is no technical definition of a "filibuster" (the U.S. Senate glossary defines it as "informal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions, or by any other delaying or obstructive actions"), but Cruz has not surrendered the floor for the duration of his speech, meaning no bathroom breaks or sitting down.
And when Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., held the floor for almost nine hours under similar procedural circumstances in December 2010, CBS News, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, and Roll Call all called it a filibuster.
A foregone conclusion
Despite Cruz's best efforts however, enough moderate Republicans have already announced they will vote with Reid to end debate on the House continuing resolution bill this Saturday, thus allowing Reid the opportunity to fully fund Obamacare through Dec. 15.
But not all political fights are about winning. Many in the conservative base are tired of hearing their elected representatives say they will do everything they can to stop Obamacare, only to see little in the way of concrete follow-up.
Yes, Cruz's speech is a little bit of political theater. But sometimes a party's base needs a little show to let them know their leadership is listening to them, and understands their pain and their priorities.
Cruz is showing conservatives he knows how important this issue is to them. Those who dismiss him out of hand risk angering their most passionate voters.
From the Washington Examiner
Mark Tapscott: How 'Modern Republicanism' is protecting Obamacare
Byron York: How did this happen?
Michael Barone: Government shutdown polls not the same as 1995-96
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Talking Points Memo: Ted Cruz's Long Speech To Block Obamacare Funding Is No Filibuster
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John Hinderaker: Ted Cruz's long speech
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