In what was seen by opponents as a stalling tactic, Ted Cruz took the floor of the Senate at 2:41 PM, Eastern Central Time, Tuesday, and said he would continue to speak until "I am no longer able to stand" less than a week before a potential shutdown if the Senate and the House cannot agree on a Budget Plan, and continued to speak until late Wednesday morning. He likened his fight against the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") to that against the Nazis and the American War of Independence, often repeating that the act was a "train wreck" and "wasn't working". Cruz was aided by his 'dutch-rider' Mike Lee, a Senator from Utah, whose questions often turned into lengthy speeches.
Cruz hopes, however, to attempt to block the Senate by urging his fellow Republican senators not to vote for the budget plan if the defunding of the health care law is removed from it. "If your voting for closure, your voting to gut the House bill." Cruz said. According to the Washington Post, other Republican senators, voiced by two senators in the room, have urged Cruz to yield the floor so they can cast a test vote for the budget.
During an earlier portion of Cruz's psuedo filibuster, Obama and former President Bill Clinton also spoke about the health care plan in a panel discussion to inform people about the health care law, which is set to be mostly be implemented come October.
Cruz discussed federalist papers, his family's immigration from Cuba, his home state Texas, Obamacare "tweets" on twitter, unions, the IRS, Americans unable to afford new cars, younger generations, the recession, Ronald Reagan, LBJ, taxes, regulations, jobs, college graduates, income, gun policy, Syria, various articles of the constitution, "red neck" rules, recited song lyrics, and various other topics he tied-into Obamacare.
Cruz often talked about the government "forcing" citizens to get health care, referring to a health care tax on those able to afford health insurance who do not purchase it, who would be taxed $99 the first year, and could increase up to 2% of their income. Cruz also claimed the Affordable Care Act was a plot to create government-provided health care, though this is not a provision in the health care bill, the New York Times reports.
Cruz also claimed the "American people" do not want Obamacare. He is correct that more Americans are currently opposed to Obamacare, but this has gone back and forth, with currently about half the country against it, with the other half either uncertain or in favor, according to recent polling.
Cruz also said Obamacare would kill jobs, especially for youths, and higher premiums, though the Washington Post estimates job opportunities should open, due to older people predicted to retire earlier from an ease on health insurance premiums. Cruz is right, according to these estimates, that overall health insurance premiums may rise, but the increase is estimated not to be more than 5%. Cruz also named various other reasons why to defund Obamacare, including love of freedom, loss of jobs, rising health care costs, religious freedom, socialism, rising debt, and opposition to big government.
The majority whip, Dick Durbin, cited that millions of people are refused health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, and mentioned how Obamacare will change this, and that congressmen like Cruz do not have to worry about this, due to their employee benefits from the federal government.
The United States of America is currently one of the only nations considered to be developed without a wide-spread or universal health care plan implemented. A study by the Common Wealth also found countries such as the UK with more socialized medicine ranked better, along with several other countries, than the United States, all of which also had a much lower cost, on average, than the US. A Harvard study in 2009 also linked 45,000 deaths a year in America to the lack of health insurance. According to the New York Times, some insurance companies from Obamacare have limited their range of hospitals and doctors, potentially hindering some from accessing more specialized for, especially for rare illnesses.
After 21 hours, Sen. Cruz wrapped-up his speech, a little more than an hour before the Senate's intended vote at 1PM ET today, with occasional help from Sen. Rubio of Florida. Cruz's speech was not a technical filibuster, as he had to yield the floor before the Senate's planned vote.