Mr. Sanders goes to Washington
December 10th, 2010
06:02 PM ET
10 years ago

Mr. Sanders goes to Washington

(CNN) - In case you haven't tuned into C-SPAN Friday, you might have missed that Sen. Bernie Sanders has been talking. And talking. And talking.

Summoning his inner Frank Capra, the Vermont independent has been speaking on the Senate floor virtually non-stop since 10:24 a.m. ET - all in an effort to show his opposition to the temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts that President Obama and Republicans have agreed to.

Is Sanders filibustering?

The Senate parliamentarian's office says no. The Senate is technically in a period of Morning Business - time set aside during any part of the day for senators to deliver speeches on any subject that they want - and therefore not technically debating the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's staff - which runs the floor - also says it's not a filibuster.

Even Sanders admits it's not a filibuster, starting his oratory with, "You can call what I am doing today anything you want. You can call it a filibuster. You can call it a very long speech. I am not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle. I am simply here today to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides."

Though not technically a filibuster, the move adds a dramatic picture to just how strongly some members of Obama's own party are against the deal he reached with Republicans earlier this week that extends the tax cuts for all income levels. Sanders normally caucuses with Democrats.

A spokesman from Sanders' office says there is no timeframe for when the senator will wrap up, although the Senate is not due to convene this weekend.

An email from Sanders' office reported that the Senate video server temporarily shut down because more than 12,000 users were trying to watch the speech.

Sanders' staff, by the way, referred to his speech as a "filibuster."

Sanders has many hours to go however if he wants to set records. The longest Senate floor speech was delivered by the late Sen.
Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 1957 when he spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in opposition to the Civil Rights Act that year.

A vote to begin debate in the Senate on the measure is scheduled for Monday.

UPDATE: After speaking for eight hours and thirty five minutes, Sanders finally yielded the floor at 6:59 pm.

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

Filed under: Senate • Tax deal
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. kelli1122

    THANK YOU BERNIE – finally, someone who's standing up for the middle class –

    December 10, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  2. Joseph Schmitt

    "Senator rails(?) against deal..." Give me a break. Bernie Sanders is being ridiculously polite in his objection to this disaster of a deal. Words do have real meaning – how about choosing some accurate ones?

    December 10, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. TTommy

    Great, let him filibuster. Kill the extension of the tax cut extension. Let's let EVERYONE feel the pain of increased taxes. I'm one of the fortunate who is above $250K. Since the paltry 34% of everything I make is not enough to make all Americans happy, let them start to pay some more in taxes too and see how they like it. And while we're at it, let's stop enabling 2 million Americans who we are paying NOT to work. Two years out of work is absurd. Where is the pride of these people? If I needed a new job, I could have on in exactly 24 hours. I might be flipping burgers, but in my world, I would have my pride.

    December 10, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  4. Blake Southwood

    Sanders was great. Every student of all ages in America should watch his entire day today speaking in Congress.

    December 10, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  5. jean2009

    Good for him!

    December 10, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  6. Kingfisher

    Speaking for 8 1/2 hours on the senate floor is not a filibuster, but announcing intent and going home for the weekend is?


    December 10, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  7. Dont be a Sucker

    Bernie Sanders is an admitted Socialist

    So he can talk for 800 hours for all I care...his perspective belongs in the trash

    December 10, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. Terry W. Brookman

    This is all they are good for, noise makers

    December 10, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. Newly Inspired

    I watched for 4 1/2 hours of the 8/12 hour speech by Senator Sanders. It's been a long time since I was even interested in anything a politician had to say, but it really moved me. I was happy because somebody was finally saying things within the Senate chamber that needed to be said, and sad because most people will likely not even care. But it did remind me that there are some good, sensible people still serving in Congress, and they need our support now more than ever. Great job, Senator! And a special thanks to the CNN organization for not covering this all day or even mentioning it until around 5:30 (I know because I was checking back while viewing on the CSPAN2 webstream), but I guess this doesn't qualify as big political news.

    December 10, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  10. James J Fitzgibbons

    if that is best deal the Pres.Ohama could I would advise him stay out of Las Vegas
    Bernie Sanders is only person that isn't a lobbyist whore

    December 10, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. Ejmounsey Granville Ohio

    I congratulate Senator Sanders. He is a person of great integrity, and I agree with him. I hope that the president listens to him and other Democrats, and reopens negotiations.

    December 10, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  12. Randall Norris

    An honest politician! We can stop looking! We found one!

    December 10, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. God

    "Despite record profits, some Wall Street banks are even asking employees to pay to chip in for their own holiday parties."

    You have to wonder at the audacity of these people.

    This is war, people, and YOU are losing.

    December 10, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  14. bMAN

    Here in Canada it gives me hope to see some Americans standing up against the nonsense that Obama is trying to spin. Makes me laugh that this is the same guy who won a Nobel Peace Price in 2009 yet kept two wars and a torture camp on the go. Go Mr Sanders! Go to hell with your "yes we can" crap Mr. Obama.

    December 10, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  15. p

    Strom Thurmond fillibustering for over 24 hours AGAINST civil rights.
    Doesn't that tell you a lot about America's painful history?
    That was not so long ago.
    That feeling has, unfortunately, not gone away completely yet...

    December 10, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  16. Liberty Queen

    It's about time someone in Washington show some spine in exposing the repugs for what they are, instruments of the rich. Comen on mr. prez, come on Dems, get some b*lls!!!!

    December 10, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  17. taz

    RIght on Bernie!

    December 10, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  18. 210

    people like this shouldn't be in office. he isnt doing ANYTHING except wasting time. if you dont like obama's idea, you should use your time to find a better solution, instead of talking for 8 hours.

    December 10, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  19. mike

    these are the type of people that the democrats elected. IDIOTS

    December 10, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  20. Go Bernie!!

    Yay!! Finally, someone is registering some outrage that American taxpayers are being saddled with debt to pay for welfare for millionaires - thanks to a back-room agreement by our supposedly Marxist president. Ha ha, the joke is on us liberals. Go Bernie! Please be my representative – I live in Wyoming & my rep., Cynthia Lummis, is a drooling-idiot fear-mongering suck-up-to-the-richies-and-polluters moron.

    December 10, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  21. Margaret

    Salute Mr.Sanders. I was very surprised to find out that there are still some decent people in the government and whom you represented today. The others just seem not realize what a dangerous game they are playing or they hope to get out unpunished? Is there any punishment for these who are in charge, but consciously sabotaging and hurting their own country? I guess to lose a job is not enough.

    December 10, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. J. Strnad

    Sanders for President in 2012!

    I couldn't listen to the entire speech, but what I heard (a couple of hours) was GREAT!. He showed more fire in those two hours than Obama's demonstrated in the past two years for SENSIBLE POLICIES that are both compassionate and fiscally responsible.

    He is obviously a man who takes his principles to heart, unlike Obama who seems to shed them like a snake sheds its skin.

    December 10, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  23. walter

    Oh those laughable libs. When it's the Republicans trying to stop legislation they don't like, they're the "party of no." When, it's far (far) lefties like Saunders squawking no, it's "right on Bernie." Pathetic.

    December 10, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. bailoutsos

    Showboating. YES. Filibuster. NO.

    December 10, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. Scott

    So is he still talking?

    December 10, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
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