Ted Cruz’ faux-libuster: Did you know today’s filibuster was a fake?

You might have heard about the “brave” one-man filibuster that “courageous” Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas waged last night in his lone effort to shut down the government in order to defund Obamacare.

But what you might not have heard was that the entire thing was a lie. It wasn’t a filibuster at all.

Let me walk you through what a real filibuster is, and then what Ted Cruz actually did, which was nothing (except advance his aspirations to the presidency).


A real filibuster is an attempt to stop a piece of legislation dead in its tracks by refusing to let the Senate proceed.  That can happen in a number of ways, including the famous “Mr. Smith Goes to the Washington” way where the Senator talks the Senate to death.  But here’s the thing.  While Senator Cruz and the Republicans want you to believe that Cruz pulled a Mr. Smith, he didn’t.

Senator Cruz’s long-winded overnight speech did nothing to stop the Senate from proceeding with the continuing resolution for the budget.  And everyone, Cruz included, knew it wouldn’t.

Cruz’ speech wasn’t some effort to keep talking until the bill died.  It was an agreement he’d made with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to let him talk for 21 hours or so, followed by a vote at 1pm ET today.

Had Cruz not spoken a lick last night, instead of spoken for 21 hours, the vote would still have been today at 1pm ET.

It wasn’t a filibuster any more than Senator McConnell relieving himself during that same period was a filibuster.

Now, one can argue that the attempt to force a vote to proceed with the bill was in fact itself “filibustering,” and the term has often been used of late to describe such things.  The vote itself imperiled the legislation, thus it was itself a form of filibuster.  But Cruz’ speech didn’t imperil anything.  It wasn’t even necessary.  And there was no danger of Cruz speaking forever and killing the bill – the definition of a true filibuster – as Cruz had already agreed with Reid in advance that he would only speak until 1pm today, and in fact, he quit an hour early.

Now, Cruz did successfully delay the bill a day.  Not that that accomplished anything.  But it simply wasn’t a filibuster.  A filibuster, at its most basic, is when you don’t know the outcome of what’s taking place.

Oh, and one more thing that marks this as “not” a filibuster.  After Cruz finished talking, he voted in favor of moving ahead with the bill. That’s an odd thing to do if you’re holding a filibuster, the point of which is to stop the bill from moving forward.

This wasn’t about Mr. Smith going to Washington. It was about Mr. Cruz going to the White House.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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29 Responses to “Ted Cruz’ faux-libuster: Did you know today’s filibuster was a fake?”

  1. future_CT_Rep says:

    Senator Cruz made a mistake with this filibuster. He was a very well-respected Republican with a good shot for the Presidency, but after this the American people will be reminded of this pointless filibuster. If his goal was to prove a point, then he should have at least voted against the bill at the end.

  2. Like there are fence sitters. Particularly those hanging on Ted Cruz’s words in order to make a decision.

  3. Jazzy says:

    Multiple people have pointed out that *filibustering* was NOT the goal. The goal was to keep discussion from happening, so that he could present his stance without the “other side” having a chance to fully respond. It was merely his making his side of the debate more convincing – if you can’t hear the other side, you’re more likely to be swayed by the side you *do* hear. He was talking for the sake of the fencesitters.

  4. Kenster999 says:

    Interesting technical / legal distinction. Thanks!

  5. Buford says:

    Cruz is no Wendy Davis… that’s for sure.

  6. ArthurH says:

    When Cruz stopped most Congress people waiting for Porky Pig to pop out of that drum and say “T-t-t-that’s All Folks!” But that would have made the event more sophisticated than it was.

  7. ArthurH says:

    In other words, a tale told with sound and fury signifying nothing! But not Shakespearian. Cruz ended up imitating the 70 pages of blather from John Galt in “Atlas Shrugged.”

  8. Tor says:

    Where are the Birthers with this guy?

  9. discus_sucks_ass says:

    the thing is from what I have read anyone who remembers him from college uses the word “a$$hole” to describe him. a perfect one or a total one, some variation on that word.

  10. discus_sucks_ass says:

    except of course Quixote had honor, Ted Ooze not so much

  11. lynchie says:

    He did it to raise money. Just as that faux princess Palin has been doing since McStain pulled her from obscurity in Alaska. What I don’t get is. The bill was written to defund Obamacare, which he wants. But he was filibustering that bill which means stopping people from voting for or against it. I am ashamed to be a Canadian when asshats like Cruz who is nothing more than a 3 card monty, shyster playing protector of the universe. We continue to elect people totally disinterested in helping Americans. I beg someone in the media to simply ask any Republican “do you not think Americans deserve to have affordable healthcare?” and when the bullshit starts keep repeating the question. The GOP has no plan, they as a party made lots of revisions in committee, in the house and in the senate as the bill proceeded to final vote. What is their problem? I believe there are 3 reasons. A black man proposed and had the bill passed. Americans will like some or all of it. And lastly it will always be remembered and brought up as a Democrat bill, like SS and Medicare. Oh and it will always be called Obamacare.

  12. Tom Mingmitmee says:

    Don Quixote.

  13. Indigo says:

    What a funny fellow!

  14. caphillprof says:

    It’s easy to win court cases when you appoint the judges.

  15. caphillprof says:

    Mr Cruz is a danger to the republic.

  16. HelenRainier says:

    Many of the Congressional “heavyweights” have thrown him under the bus. McCain allegedly hates him and some Republicans contacted Fox News and provided “insider” info for Chris Wallace to use against Cruz last week.

  17. HelenRainier says:

    Smarmy is an excellent word to describe Cruz. You spelled it correctly. I would add repulsive to smarmy.

  18. Thom Allen says:

    Senator Cruz, do you like healthcare for the poor?

    No I don’t, president reelected for 4, I do not like healthcare for the poor.

    Would you like healthcare for the poor who are disabled?

    No, I would not like healthcare even for poor Aunt Mable.

    Would you give healthcare to our vets?

    No, I would not give healthcare even to their pets.

    Would you give healthcare to a child?

    No, I would not even if his cancer was running wild.

    Would you give healthcare if conditions preexisted?

    No, I would not even if my arm were twisted.

    Would you give healthcare to the House?

    Of COURSE I would have healthcare in the House! For me and my spouse!

    But you would not give healthcare to the poor?

    No! No, I would not give healthcare to the poor, oh president 44,
    reelected for 4! They will only ask for more and more! I do not like
    healthcare at all! Instead I must muster the the will to remove my faux
    presidential luster, to bluster and fuster and fill this House with

    Oh, Senator Cruz! Why do you fuster and bluster, and fill this House with filibuster?

    Why, isn’t it obvious, president 44? I fear that if healthcare they
    can afford reaches the millions of uninsured, why those who used to moan
    beyond the hospital door may LIKE healthcare for the poor!

    And why is that so bad that you would threaten their poor lives?

    Because then president 45 may be one of the nation’s strongest former first wives!

    — Marc Belisle https://www.facebook.com/deMARCracy?directed_target_id=0

  19. Thom Allen says:

    The best thing about Cruz’ speech:

  20. Thom Allen says:

    The title of Cruz’ speech:

  21. Thom Allen says:

    That would pale in comparison as to what Cruz will rake in in campaign contributions from TeaParty, Cons and PACs and the millions he got in free publicity.

  22. ComradeRutherford says:

    Now, now, Senator Sanders spoke for 8 hours several months ago in much the same way, a non-filibuster before an empty chamber, making a speech when the room wasn’t in use. Sanders spoke for 8 hours.

    Cruz was just grandstanding by speaking for 21 hours. But it’s the same basic premise as what Sanders did.

    The real difference is that Sanders told the truth and knew what he was talking about and Cruz did neither of those things.

    America needs more Sanders and less Cruz.

  23. Jim Olson says:

    One wonders how much money the Senator’s fauxibuster cost the American taxpayer. Costs money to keep the Senate open, lit, and secure.

  24. Dave says:

    One of the most interesting things about Congress is how enamored the Republicans are about masturbating in public…..

  25. Naja pallida says:

    Ted Cruz seems to think that he’s arguing a court case, and that all he has to do is say something clever enough and a judge will leap out and rule in his favor. He should patent the failibuster, asap.

  26. George of the Jungle says:

    It seems to me that Cruz may have been looking to pull a Wendy Davis. You may recall that Texas State Senator Davis pulled a 13 hour filibuster that was successful in running out the clock on abortion legislation, which, according to CNN, “caught fire on Twitter, and by the evening it was trending worldwide.
    There were at least 730,000 total tweets about the filibuster on Tuesday”. While he certainly knew his efforts were for naught, I wonder if he thought his actions would inspire the same type of response. If so, he failed. On 2 accounts.

  27. Mighty says:

    Cruz = PT Barnum. A sucker is born every minute and joins the tea party.

  28. skwcw2001 . says:

    I wonder does anyone else find cruz well smarmy I dont know if that is the right spelling but you get what Im saying, and he should actually be sanctions for missuse of federal funds as we pay him and he spent his time that we pay for to read a childrens book during open session.

  29. JayRandal says:

    Cruz will never be elected President so his charade 21 hours diatribe in Senate accomplished nothing for him but showing off his complete stupidity. Texans should demand his immediate resignation. Cruz is a political Bozo the clown. Fellow GOP Senators should throw him under the bus pronto.

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