Washington (CNN) - Whatever you want to call Ted Cruz's marathon speech on the Senate floor, it's not in and of itself a filibuster. While he's speaking for an unusually long time, he's not holding up any Senate business.
It is part of a filibuster by him and other Senate Republicans like Marco Rubio and Mike Lee who are stalling immediate Senate action on the House-passed plan to fund the government past September 30. They don't need to talk to do that, they just say they will and that requires the Senate to reach a 60-vote threshold to stop them.
The Senate's top Democrat – Majority Leader Harry Reid – started the process Tuesday to break that filibuster by filing a motion setting a time limit on on the debate. Because of Reid's motion, at about 1 p.m. Wednesday the full Senate will vote on whether to proceed with its formal consideration of the spending bill passed Monday in the House–that's the one that requires the 60 votes, known as a "cloture" vote.
Reid is expected to get the 60 votes he needs to stop Cruz and his allies from blocking Senate consideration of the bill. Reid needs at least six Republicans to vote with the 54 members of the Democratic caucus and a number of Republicans have said they'll side with Democrats on this vote.
Cruz's speech differs from Sen. Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster in March of John Brennan's nomination to be CIA director because Paul seized the Senate floor and delayed all other Senate business. Cruz can hold the floor only until the scheduled vote later today.