Update, 12:04 p.m.: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his “defund Obamacare” Senate floor speech Wednesday at noon, having spoken for 21 hours and 19 minutes.
Read highlights from earlier in the morning below:
While most other senators were sleeping Tuesday night, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz continued his extended speech from the floor of the U.S. Senate in protest of President Obama’s health-care law. He’s now been speaking for more than 21 hours.
Cruz has been speaking since about 2:40 p.m. on Tuesday. He started his speech by saying, “I plan to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.”
We will update as Cruz’s continues his speech on Wednesday:
6:58 a.m. — Cruz implored reporters covering his speech to report on the issues of Obamacare implementation and not just the “personalities of the politics.”
7:03 a.m. — With Sen. Marco Rubio on the Senate floor to ask questions, Cruz asks the Florida senator to talk about how the health care law would affect his family.
7:25 a.m. — Cruz’s marathon speech is now the fifth longest speech ever given on the Senate floor. Shortly before 7 a.m., Cruz’s remarks beat the fifth place record set by Wisconsin Sen. William Proxmire’s 1981 filibuster that lasted 16 hours and 12 minutes.
7:47 a.m. — Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts takes to the Senate floor to ask Cruz a question. He asks Cruz how he’s doing. “I’m doing fabulous,” Cruz responds. “I’m inspired.”
8 a.m. — TheDC’s Alexis Levinson reports: Cruz points to the presence of Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi on the floor as evidence that perhaps the Republican Senators are beginning to unify. “It is one thing for the wacko birds” to be up there with him, Cruz said, “but when you see them and elder statesmen standing side by side,” it may be a sign of growing unity in the party.
“Perhaps the division in the Republican conference is not benefitting the nation or benefitting the Republican Party,” Cruz said.
8:21 a.m. — TheDC’s Alexis Levinson reports: Cruz committed to at least another 40 minutes of speaking, promising Sen. Jim Inhofe that he would still be around at 9 a.m. for Inhofe to ask a question. “I’m going to stand against Obamacare as long as I am able to stand…and at this point I feel confident that at 9 a.m., I will still be able to stand.”
8:40 a.m. — Cruz has now hit the 18-hour mark of his speech.
8:41 a.m. — TheDC’s Alexis Levinson reports: Cruz said the battle to defund Obamacare is basically the same as the battle of the rebel alliance against the Empire in Star Wars. He also said, “Mike Lee, I am your father,” in a Darth Vader voice.
9:05 a.m. — TheDC’s Alexis Levinson reports: Cruz took a shot at some of his Republican Senate colleagues who have said that they support defunding Obamacare, but do not support Cruz’s plan. “It is far different for a Republican to say I’m going to vote for cloture, I’m going to give Harry Reid … but at the same time I’m going to go to my constituents and say ‘I fully, I enthusiastically support defunding Obamacare, indeed, I am leading the fight … That is not being honest with the American people,” Cruz said.
“If those members of this conference want to disagree with this strategy and say, ‘we agree with Harry Reid’ … then let them say so openly, not cloaked in robes of procedural deception obscurity,” he added.
10:08 a.m. — TheDC’s Alexis Levinson reports: Cruz held up James Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, as a paragon of “courage” for a letter he wrote citing problems with Obamacare.
“I want to appeal to the better angels of our Democratic senators that you show the same courage Mr. Hoffa showed, to be willing to buck party leadership and be willing to speak out for the men and women that are your constituents,” Cruz said. “And I make that same plea to Republicans … that you show the courage to buck party leadership,” Cruz added, taking a jab at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Cruz’s fellow Texas senator and Minority Whip John Cornyn, neither of whom are supporting the sort-of filibuster.
“To any Democrats that are contemplating doing so, let me note that bucking your party’s leadership inevitably provokes a reaction, inevitably provokes expression of displeasure and often strong expressions of displeasure. … There are worse things in life,” Cruz said.
10:40 a.m. — Ted Cruz has been speaking for 20 hours, the fourth longest speech ever given on the Senate floor.
10:53 a.m. — The Daily Caller stepped inside the Senate chamber briefly to scope out the scene. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is asking a very long question — long enough that Cruz is several feet away from his podium huddling with someone on the floor while Rubio speaks. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley is also on the floor, presumably to ask Cruz a question soon.
11:25 a.m. — TheDC’s Alexis Levinson reports: As a reminder, under the rules, Sen. Cruz must remain standing and may not leave the Senate chamber for any reason. That rule ultimately ended Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster earlier this year, when he concluded after 12 hours and 52 minutes that his bladder could take no more. Twenty-plus hours in, Cruz either has an iron bladder, or he’s wearing a catheter. A visual examination by TheDC’s Alex Pappas from the Senate gallery was inconclusive.
11:28 a.m.: Cruz beginning to talk about ending speech. Cruz said he is “weary” and but has “strength” in legs to stand longer. Cruz said he assumes speech will be done by noon. He is thanking many folks by name – including Senate floor staff, cloakroom staff, Capitol police, congressional record staff and Senate pages – who were in attendance during his speech. He thanked Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert for sitting through the speech all night. He specifically singled out Utah Sen. Mike Lee for his help throughout.
11:36 a.m.: Senate majority leader Harry Reid arrives on floor and dismisses Cruz’s speech. “This is not a filibuster,” Reid said, stating that he and Cruz made an agreement that he could give such remarks.
11:41 a.m.: Ted Cruz has been speaking for 21 hours. He has signaled he will stop speaking at noon.