When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took the Senate floor at 2:41 PM Tuesday, he declared his intention to talk “until I cannot stand anymore.”
He’s not going to do that.
That’s because what Cruz is doing isn’t really a filibuster, where you can hold the Senate floor as long as you want so long as you keep talking. Cruz is subject to a time limit. At most, he can talk until noon Wednesday.
Senate rules don’t always allow unlimited debate. In this instance, the Senate is scheduled to adjourn tomorrow at noon, at which point Cruz will have to stop talking.
At that point, the Senate will immediately reconvene to vote on cloture, which moves the continuing resolution that Cruz is trying to stop toward passage with further time limits. If most of the Senate’s Republicans line up with Cruz and vote against cloture, then he’ll be able to filibuster; cloture requires 60 votes, so it needs at least 6 Republican votes to pass.
But many Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have indicated that they will vote yes, meaning the 60 vote threshold will be achieved. That will set up the bill for a limited, 30 hours of debate, of which only 15 will be allocated to the Republicans.
That means Cruz has no chance at breaking the record for the longest speech on the Senate floor, which Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat from South Carolina, set when he spoke against a civil rights bill for just over 24 hours in 1957.
Indeed, Cruz might not even speak as long as he is allowed. A Republican leadership aide told ABC News that Cruz might speak just long enough to appear in prime time on Fox News, which would only require talking for a bit more than eight hours.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Senate procedures and stated that Cruz would have to stop talking by 5 a.m. Wednesday.
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