Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks about Obamacare on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sept. 24, 2013.
WASHINGTON (USATODAY.com) - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, vowed Tuesday to speak on the Senate floor "until I am no longer able to stand" in opposition to President Obama's health care law.
Cruz continued to speak late into the night, filling the time by talking about the Revolutionary War, the battle against the Nazis, reading tweets from supporters and even reciting Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham.
Cruz also shared "words of wisdom" from the reality TV show Duck Dynasty and quoted much of country music singer Toby Keith's song Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.
In one exchange, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., pointed to Obama's re-election as the electorate's word on the health care law. Cruz said Obama was a "far more talented candidate" than Mitt Romney and didn't see the 2012 election as a referendum on the health care law.
Despite the Republican senators' efforts, the chamber is on track to clear a key procedural hurdle Wednesday to ultimately advance a stopgap spending bill that leaves intact President Obama's health care law.
"Filibusters stop people from voting, and we are going to vote tomorrow," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Tuesday. Cruz took to the Senate floor at 2:41 p.m., but under Senate rules Reid will be able to hold a procedural vote to take up the stopgap spending bill around noon Wednesday no matter how long Cruz intends to speak.
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid, posted on Twitter that Cruz and Reid had pre-negotiated the terms of Cruz's floor time.
Cruz took a moment to embrace the "wacko bird" label Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., used to refer to him and other conservative Republicans back in March.
"If it reflects a fidelity to the Constitution, a fidelity to liberty, a willingness to fight, to defend the principles this country was founded on," then Cruz said he and his colleagues were "very proud wacko birds."
The conservative-driven effort to defund Obamacare on a stopgap spending bill now under debate in Congress has raised the threat of a government shutdown Oct. 1.
Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, have led the defund effort despite criticism from Senate Republicans who view their tactics as short-sighted because there is no chance of passage up against a Democratic-led Senate and Obama's veto pen.
Lee took the floor to denounce the Affordable Care Act as a first step toward a government-run health care system, "funded, operated and administered entirely from Washington, D.C."
Lee referred to the Supreme Court ruling that declared Obamacare to be constitutional as a "lawless act" and "something that we should be ashamed of as Americans."
The House-passed spending bill under debate in the Senate maintains the current annual $986 billion funding levels across the federal government through Dec. 15 but includes a provision to defund the Affordable Care Act. The Senate's vote on Wednesday would essentially clear the way for a final up-or-down vote by the weekend, but Reid is going to strip out the language eliminating spending for the health care law, which is why Cruz and his allies are using blocking tactics.
Senate Democrats also intend to change the time period of the stopgap spending bill to Nov. 15, in order to nudge lawmakers closer toward passing the annual spending bills instead of relying on stopgap measures. "The best way to stop lurching on this crisis to the next crisis is to get back into funding our government the way the Founding Fathers set it out, through the appropriations process," Reid said.