Washington (CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, held the Senate floor for more than 21 hours as he passionately argued his case for defunding Obamacare.
Here are some of the highlights from his epic speech. Be sure you don't skip the exchange between Cruz and fellow Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah around 3 a.m., when they ask each other some super tricky questions. Cruz also mentions his lifelong dream of being a Pirate at one point. Oh, and there was the time Cruz loops Sean Connery and Teddy Roosevelt into the same analogy
Finally, you can't miss his Green Eggs and Ham reading around 8 p.m. ET.
1:25 p.m. ET – The Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to move ahead on a spending plan needed to avoid a government shutdown next week, with Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, unexpectedly reversing themselves after previously trying to block the measure over their objection to spending for Obamacare.
12:56 p.m. ET – The Senate starts voting a few minutes early on whether to move ahead with the bill.
12:44 p.m. ET – Ouch.
12:40 p.m. ET – McCain, who famously called Cruz a "wacko bird" strongly disagrees with a comparison Cruz made in which he linked those who refused to stand up to the Nazis with those who refuse to stand up to Obamacare.
Here's Cruz's quote: "You go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany. Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain who told the British people, accept the Nazis. Yes, they'll dominate the continent of Europe but that's not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them."
He also said: "I suspect those same pundits who say defunding Obamacare can't be done, if it had been in the 1940s, we would have been listening to them. They would have been saying we cannot defeat the Germans."
McCain says he "resoundingly reject(s) that allegation."
"That allegation, in my view, does a great disservice. A great disservice for those brave Americans and those who stood up and said what's happening in Europe cannot stand," he says. "I do not agree with that comparison. I think it's wrong. I think it's wrong and I think it's a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease, that we must act. We did act."
12:38 p.m. ET – Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, in a veiled swipe against Cruz, takes issue with those who "allege" that Senate Republicans didn't fight hard enough in 2009 against the passage of Obamacare. On the contrary, McCain argues, it was one of the most "hard-fought, fair debates that has taken place" in the Senate.
12:30 p.m. ET – As he leaves the Capitol and gets in his car, CNN's Deirdre Walsh asks Cruz how he handled it physically.
"I'm feeling terrific," he says. "It's energizing to see the American people have an opportunity to get involved in the debate. I hope my colleagues do the right thing and listen to the American people."
Asked by CNN's Ted Barrett how he stayed out of the men's room the whole time, Cruz responds, "Drinking very little water."
12:18 p.m. ET –
12:08 a.m. ET –
12:04 a.m. ET – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Cruz's speech has been "interesting" to watch but doubts anyone learned "anything news." He says the overall Republican filibuster has been a big "waste of time," as the government verges on a shutdown.
Senator Reid, on the floor: "Every hour that he has spoken or speaks pushes us another hour closer to a Republican government shutdown."—
Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) September 25, 2013
12:00 p.m. ET – Cruz finishes speaking after more than 21 hours, yielding the floor for a prayer. He sits down for the first time.
11:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 21st hour on the Senate floor.
11:30 a.m. ET - In his closing remarks, Cruz thanks those "who have endured this Bataan death march."
"I don’t want to miss the opportunity, within the limited time, to do something that is imperative that I do which is to thank the men and women who have endured this Bataan death march," he says.
"I want to make a point particularly to the floor staff and to everyone – you all didn’t choose this. I appreciate the hard work and diligence in going through the night. That is not part of your typical job responsibility. I would not have imposed on your time and energy if I did not believe this was an issue of vital importance to the American people. But I want to thank you for your hard work and diligence and cheerfulness through what has been a very long night."
11:26 p.m. ET –
11:11 a.m. ET – Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, tells the story of a 62-year-old constituent "Judy," a hotel housekeeper who will qualify for health insurance under Medicaid for the first time in her life because of Obamacare - even though there may be limitations on doctors and hospitals under the program.
"If you're being told you have a limitation on doctors and hospitals that you can use, but you have health insurance, isn't that a dramatic improvement over a lifetime of no health insurance? That's what Obamacare is going to offer to her (Judy) for the first time in her life," Durbin says. "To say that we shouldn't give her that opportunity is like someone saying if you can't fly first class, you can't get on the airplane. Listen, a lot of people would be glad to sit back in economy if they can just make the trip that you and I can make because we're blessed with health insurance."
Cruz responds: "Senator from Illinois made a reference to Judy not needing to be in first class, but being content to be in coach. You know, I think that analogy is a powerful one. But what it really highlights is the special exemption that's been put in place for members of Congress, because President Obama has put an exemption in place for members of Congress that says members of Congress will fly first class - to use your airline analogy - but average Americans who are being forced onto exchanges where their employers can't subsidize their premiums are not even flying coach, they're being put in the baggage compartment."
Read: What's Ted Cruz's deal?
10:42 a.m. ET – Cruz quotes Benjamin Franklin and a famous union boss to talk about unity.
"I will make this note to my friends on the Republican side of the aisle and the Democratic side of the aisle. As Benjamin Franklin wryly noted, 'Indeed, we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately.' That's a message all of us should think. Are we going to hang separately because we've disregarded the will, disregarded the view of our constituents, because we've given in to the Washington establishment or are we going to stand together and say let's break the broken pattern of Washington of empty show votes, of fixed procedures, of ignoring the will of the people, and let's come together - much like James Hoffa of the Teamsters has - and say we will remain silent no longer."
Then Rubio makes a funny: "I am reminded that around the world people are still not just losing their freedom but their lives for purposes of speaking out. I will confess that I hope we can avoid the hanging part (chuckles) of the situation that you have outlined."
10:42 p.m. ET – Remember how Cruz read Green Eggs and Ham last night (around 8 p.m.)? Well, now the whole book is in the Congressional Record.
10:41 p.m. ET – Cruz enters his 20th hour on the Senate floor.
9:57 a.m. ET – Cruz gets some style points.
Other than his tie hanging a bit looser, Ted Cruz looks pretty dang good this morning on the Senate floor. Voice sounds the same, too.—
Chris Moody (@Chris_Moody) September 25, 2013
9:48 a.m. ET - Cruz recalls the time he wanted to smash his boot into a television.
"When Hillarycare was playing out, all of the media said this is unstoppable. All of the media said this was going to happen and there's nothing the hapless republicans can do to stop it. And indeed there were a number of Republicans who came forth and said well we can't stop this so we propose - what I derisively referred to at the time as a perhaps too impudent law student, as Hillarycare Lite. And I remember watching that, I will tell you, in the course of that debate I almost put my boot through the television set," he says. "I remember yelling at the TV set. That may be a sentiment that more than a few people watching this feel, where you feel you don't have a voice in the process. Certainly as a law student I didn't have a voice in the process. But I remember yelling at the TV set, "What on Earth do we believe? What are doing?"
9:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 19th hour on the Senate floor.
9:30 a.m. ET - Inhofe talks about his constituents getting robocalls by whom he called "pro-Obama health care people."
"All day yesterday the call is going around my state of Oklahoma by someone and the message is something like this, 'This is Joe Smith. I'm the ABC Tea Party' - these are not Tea Party people, but nonetheless that's how they identify themselves. 'You're Senator, Jim Inhofe, is supporting Obamacare? And you've got to call his office and this is what his number is and all this.' And so we started getting calls and people didn't even know that there are 14 of us who had joined together with, with Senator Cruz about six weeks ago. And I was one of the 14 and one of the supporters of his cause."
9:28 a.m. ET - Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, is helping Cruz carry the discussion the first part of the 9 o'clock hour.
While Inhofe is speaking, Cruz is visited by Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Cruz walks over and meets him near Rand Paul's desk. They chat a while. Pryor checks his watch and leaves.
The presiding officer now Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts. About 20 spectators in balcony overlook.
Cruz has an extensive array of documents on the floor to his right from his desk where he has been speaking. A ring binder, folders, single papers stacked.
9:23 a.m. ET – Former presidential candidate Herman Cain approves.
9:20 a.m. ET – But what would a Washington showdown be without a meme?
8:42 a.m. ET – Cruz channels Darth Vader. Things are getting wild.
"I will confess that phrase `a rebellion against oppression’ conjured up to me the rebel alliance fighting against the empire. The empire being the Washington DC establishment. And indeed immediately on hearing that phrase I wondered if at some point we would see a tall gentleman in a mechanical breathing apparatus come forward and say in a deep voice `Mike Lee I am your father.’ This is a fight to restore freedom to the people. This is a fight to get the Washington establishment, the empire, to listen to the people. And just like in the Star Wars movies the empire will strike back. But at the end of the day I think the rebel alliance, I think the people will prevail."
8:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 18th hour on the Senate floor.
8:30 a.m ET – That time when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, calls Cruz a rebel.
I think everybody, all federal employees – if Obamacare is so good everybody ought to get it. And the thing is we would be so fed up we’d rebel in this country. And that is what I think the senator from Texas has started. Hopefully a rebellion against coercion. A rebellion against mandates. A rebellion against everything that says when big government wants to shove something down your throat and said take it or you go to jail. And people say we’re not going to put people in jail. The heck we won’t. What do you think happens? You’ll get fined first. You don’t pay your fine you’ll go to jail.
8:29 a.m. ET – Paul slams Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion when the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare last year.
"I will be on the exchanges. I will have to go to the exchange in Kentucky and buy my insurance. I am not very happy about it. In fact, I think if I’ve got to do it. I think that Justice Roberts ought to have to do it. Justice Roberts loves Obamacare so much I am for voting to have Justice Roberts trot on down to the Obamacare registry, the Obamacare index and get his insurance like the rest of us. "
8:20 a.m. ET – Like Elton John, Cruz is still standing.
"I can tell you as I said at 2:30 in the afternoon yesterday that I intend to stand against Obamacare as long as I am able to stand and at this point I feel confident that at 9am I will still be able to stand. There will come a point when that is no longer the case but we have not yet reached that point."
8:04 a.m. ET - Democrats pounce back.
7:49 a.m. ET – Cruz gets a breakfast offer from Roberts.
Roberts: “I gave up about midnight, by the way; my wife, about 11:00, she fell asleep. But I want to thank you for being truly senatorial and basically doing what senators do, and that is respecting everybody's point of view…If you want breakfast, if you are about ready to sit down. I'd be happy to buy you breakfast. But we'll let that go.”
7:47 a.m. ET – Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas takes the floor, and Cruz is ‘fabulous.’
"How are ya doing?" Roberts asks.
"I am doing fabulous," Cruz replies
7:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters the 17th hour mark. Sen. Joe Manchin, D – West Virginia, presides.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, is now also on the floor, seated to Cruz's left, and to the right of Rubio's location.
There are no spectators in the general public balcony, and only a few staffers on the floor.
7:29 a.m. ET – Rubio grabs the mic again.
7:26 a.m. ET – Cruz takes back the podium. He notes both he and Rubio come from Hispanic communities and now represent such a constituency. "What is the impact of Obamacare on the Hispanic community?" he asks "Has Obamacare made it easier or harder to achieve the American dream?"
7:06 a.m. ET – Rubio takes the podium again and fills the first part of the 7 o'clock hour, providing a 20 minute response to a rhetorical question from Cruz earlier.
7: 10 a.m. ET - Sen. Mike Lee, who pulled the overnight hours with Cruz, leaves the floor.
6:55 a.m. ET -- Cruz picks it up again, having yielded for Rubio’s 54-minute "question," but not yielding the floor.
*Questions can be characterized as discussion points, anecdotes, and reviews of the oratory thus far. Lee will give Cruz another are to talk about, he picks up his cue, and continues.
6:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 16th hour on the Senate floor.
6:24 a.m. ET -- "I don't know how you did this for 18 hours, I'm already tired,” Rubio says.
During Rubio’s remarks, Cruz remains standing for at least part of the time and shifted from one foot to the other. Lee is seated to Cruz's right, Sen. Joe Donnelly, (D-Indiana), has an open magazine in front of him as presiding officer, and uses a smartphone at times.
6:01 a.m. ET – Sen. Marco Rubio, fresh to the floor, energized and animated, starts to provide Cruz a break for most of the 6 o'clock hour this morning when the Florida Republican.
"Is this issue not about fighting on behalf of everyday people?" he asks.
Part of Rubio's time was spent discussing the regulatory load he believes Obamacare will deliver. He cited a software startup company whose founder he encountered using free Wi-Fi at a corner table at Starbucks as among the businesses that will have a difficult time complying with the provisions of the law.
Obamacare, he said, is "a massive authorization to write a bunch of rules."
5:59 a.m. ET – About ten spectators are in the gallery. Sen. Donnelly, the presiding officer (D-Indiana), gives a big yawn. A handful of staffers, and the official Senate stenographer, are around Cruz and Lee on the floor.
5:53 a.m. ET – Cruz picks up the microphone. He says the answer is in the people's House, the House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly voted to defund Obamacare.
5:43 a.m. ET – Lee starts to ask a question, which lasts about 11 minutes. He argued “we” cannot support a process that enables Senate Majority Leader Reid to strip out the Obamacare funding provision on a simple majority of votes, without an up or down vote by senators on the legislation as a whole. That's what we're fighting for.
Lee, concluding after about 10 minutes lead-up, then asks Cruz: How best can the American people square their shoulders against this government expansion?
5:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 15th hour on the floor.
4:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 14th hour on the floor.
4:40 a.m. ET – What brings him to tears?
“You know what? It is an extraordinary, it is a breathtaking privilege to serve in this body. I cannot tell you how it brings me virtually to tears to think about the opportunity I have to stand here at a time when our nation is threatened like I’ve never seen before.”
4:37 a.m. ET – Cruz compares himself to Teddy Roosevelt—kind of. And he makes an SNL reference. And somehow wraps Sean Connery into it.
“Teddy Roosevelt was once giving a speech and he was shot during the speech. and he finished the speech before seeking medical attention.” [laughter]
“Now, that - you know, there was an old episode on ‘Saturday night live’ that–for the pages you all have probably never seen this - but an old episode that was ‘who is more macho?’ You know what, Teddy Roosevelt, elli es macho? You get shot in a speech, you stand there and finish the speech. . . You win. Even Sean Connery is looking at him going, gosh, that guy's tough.”
4:30 a.m. ET – Cruz is in pain, literally. But it’s OK.
“Now, I will stay standing here after 14 hours, standing on your own feet, there's sometimes some pain, sometimes some fatigue that is involved. But you know what? There’s far more pain involved in rolling over, far more pain in hiding,” he says.
4:04 a.m. ET – The little guy gets a shout-out.
“What have we seen with Obamacare? The rich and powerful get special exemptions,” Cruz says. “Big businesses? The president exempts them. Members of Congress? The president exempts us. It's the little guy that doesn't have an army of lobbyists, don't have special interests. The little guy is the one left out.”
3:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 13th hour on the floor.
3:31 a.m. ET – Where are all the people? Cruz disses the absentees.
“I think there's widespread agreement we should take up this bill, that there is no more of an important bill we could be debating right now than this,” Cruz says. “Indeed, in my view, there should not be just three senators in this chamber, there should be 100, because the urgency facing this country from Obamacare is such that we have nothing better to do.”
3:00 a.m. ET – Cruz and Lee ask each other some really hard questions.
Lee: “Senator Cruz, I’d like to ask you, do you know how long the Hundred Years War lasted?”
Cruz: “Well, I thank my friend from Utah for his remarkable discourse on constitutional law. And ask for the latest - and as for the latest question you ask, you might think the Hundred Years War lasted a hundred years, but think again. It was 116 years. Things are not always as they seem.
Lee: “Can you tell me, Senator Cruz, where do Chinese gooseberries come from?”
Cruz: “I yield for this question, and most would say China, but think again. Chinese gooseberries actually come from New Zealand. The way things are labeled are not always, in fact, what they are.”
Lee: “If the gentleman will yield for another question, question, - commercial airplanes, as far as I know, all airplanes in the United States have within them something called the black box, a black box that records the events of the cockpit and also records critical operating data from the airplane so that in the event of an accident, the data and the voice recordings can be reviewed to try to figure out what happened. Do you know what color the black box is?”
Cruz: “Senator Lee, I do. If we were dealing with the ordinary English language, it would be black. But perhaps airplane manufacturers think like Congress because the black box on an airplane is orange.”
Lee: “There is something called a Panama hat. Can you tell me what part of the world the Panama hat comes from?”
Cruz: “Well, I would yield to that question and note that it could possibly be Panama. You might think if you call it a Panama hat, it might be Panama. Think again. Ecuador. Ecuador makes Panama hats. I don't know that anyone makes Ecuador hats.”
Lee: “The device known as a camel's hairbrush, do you know what it's made of?”
Cruz: “I yield for that question, and curiously enough, I do. Now, you might think a camel's hairbrush must be made of camel's hair. There are lots of camels. They have hair. Surely you can make a brush. I don't know if you can. But a camel's hairbrush is made of squirrel fur. It makes you wonder, the squirrels apparently have a very bad marketing department if they give their fur and it gets credited to the camel.”
Lee: “What color is a purple finch?”
Cruz: “I will again yield for that question, again to note that a purple finch, like most husbands, I have a color palate of about six colors. I remember once my wife asked me with regard to a tile that we were redoing our bathroom, it was a white tile. She was long distance. She said, ‘What shade of white?’ I’ll note that was a question I was utterly incapable of responding to. I wasn't aware there were shades of white and my vocabulary doesn't cover such things. I finally dropped it in a FedEx envelope and said, it's a white tile, I know nothing beyond that. Again, to your question, what color is a purple finch? I would tend to be wrong if that were the case, because a purple finch is crimson red.”
He continues to share the marathon with Sen. Lee of Utah, who just finished one of his longer segments of "questioning," as he calls it when he rises to request that Sen. Cruz yield. Cruz continues to grant the yield but not the floor.
2:50 a.m. ET – Cruz gives a lesson on the architectural structure of the Supreme Court. Let's be clear everyone. There is no aisle at the Supreme Court, literally or figuratively.
“So many people. . . Many of them from my own political party, praised Chief Justice Roberts for his participation in this inexcusable act. (Upholding Obamacare)...Many of them said, this shows that they were willing to cross the aisle. Well, that's a problem. There is no aisle in the Supreme Court of the United States. They sit along a bench at the center of the bench is the chief justice. There isn't an aisle and, in fact, particularly once they've been appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, Supreme Court justices operate in a world in which political - partisan political affiliation has no meaning. This wasn't reaching across the aisle.”
2:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 12th hour on the floor.
2:26 a.m. ET – So….Cruz wants to be a pirate.
“A letter of mark and reprisal is, of course, effectively a hall pass issued by the United States congress in the name of the united states government that entitles the bearer of that hall pass to be a high hall pass to be a pirate on the high seas. Regardless of how long I get to serve in the United States Senate, I hope one day to be granted a letter of mark and reprisal so I can become a pirate, as I longed to be as a child.”
2:17 a.m. ET – The American people are crying out for help, Cruz says.
“We have to be willing to say that we're not going to allow certain things to persist, things that would harm the American people,” Cruz says. “And that means we have to listen to the American people. When they cry out for help. They've cried out for help in recent weeks as they have asked Congress again and again to defund Obamacare.”
2:11 a.m. ET – Cruz reads quotes from people across the country, then names a bunch of states.
“Those are quotes from think tanks in North Carolina, in Utah and South Carolina, in California, in Tennessee and New Mexico, in Ohio and Rhode island, in Maine and Utah, in Virginia and Idaho and Wyoming and Kansas and Alabama, in Montana, in Washington state, in Ohio, in Massachusetts, in Minnesota, in Nebraska, in South Carolina, in Wisconsin, in Florida, and in the state of Kentucky,” he says. “Let me ask you - Mr. president, let me ask everyone watching, have the senators from each of those states come out and said they will defund Obamacare?”
1:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 11th hour on the floor.
12:41 a.m. ET – Cruz enters his 10th hour on the floor.
12:50 a.m. ET – There are about 50 people in the gallery watching, packed into two sections. The light over the Capitol remains on, as it always does when Congress is in session.
11:41 p.m. ET – Cruz enters his 9th hour on the floor.
11:22 p.m. ET – Cruz has a spine.
10:57 p.m. ET – Some of Cruz's Republican critics say they're not supporting him because it's realistic to think Republicans will get what they want when they control one-half of one-third of government, meaning House Republicans. Cruz, however, calls that "poppycock."
"It is complete and utter nonsense," he says.
9:39 p.m. ET – Not everyone is so inspired by Cruz's speech.
9:35 p.m. ET –
9:30 p.m. ET - Sarah Palin, who helped Cruz get elected to the Senate, shows her support.
8:09 p.m. ET – But wait, Green Eggs and Ham is actually relevant.
"You know Green Eggs and Ham has some applicability, as curious as it might sound to the Obamacare debate. Because three and a half years ago, President Obama and Senate Democrats told the American people just try Obamcare. Just try it. There were an awful lot of us, an awful lot of Republicans who were very, very skeptical of it. I think for good reasons but very skeptical of it. We were told try it, try it, try it, try it. And through unfortunately an exercise of brute political force, Obamacare became the law of land. I'll tell you the difference with green eggs and ham is when Americans tried it, they discovered they did not like green eggs and ham and they did not like Obamacare either. They did not like Obamacare in a box with a fox in a house or with a mouse."
8:04 p.m. ET – Cruz's daughters tune in.
8:03 p.m. ET – Since tonight girls you aren't here, you girls don't get to pick the book, so I got to pick Green Eggs and Ham. I love this story, so I'm going to read it to you...Sam I am. That Sam I Am! That Sam I Am!....
(Reads Green Eggs and Ham.)
"...Thank you. Thank you, Sam I Am. I want to say to Caroline and Catherine, my angels I love you with all my heart. It's bedtime. Give Mommy a hug and a kiss. Brush your teeth. Say your prayers. Daddy's going to be home soon to read to you in person."
8:01 p.m. ET – Cruz reads to his daughters.
7:40 p.m. ET – The White House responds.
5:18 p.m. ET – From a man who knows a thing or two about speaking on the Senate floor for hours and hours...