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. wellthereitis

    Stop global warming, shut up Sanders.

    December 10, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. Kevin

    Go Bernie! Go!

    December 10, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  3. Corinne Sutter-Brown

    Elliot Spitzer: why aren't you talking about what Bernie Sanders said today???????? You even agree with most of what said.

    December 10, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. screech99

    Yet another reason why nothing gets done in congress. This is a disgrace that the day was wasted with this showboat foolishness.

    December 10, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. Phil Newton -- Murphy, Oregon

    I I love this guy. Thank you, Mister Sanders!

    December 10, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  6. Brilliant man

    Thank you people of Vermont for electing this brilliant man to the U.S. Senate. He made so very clear the problems with this mess of an agreement. Thank you, Sen. Sanders, for helping us understand what this bill is all about. Come on people, now it's our turn to stop this horrible bill.

    December 10, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  7. New Age Independant

    I'm glad he felt the need to waste the taxpayers money with his grandstanding. I agree he has the right to do so, but it just shows how out of touch he is with the countries needs.

    December 10, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  8. Chris

    talk talk talk. That is all these guys ever do. if was really passionate about helping his voters he would have been doing something long before this. politicians = self aggrandizing liars

    December 10, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  9. Steve

    Bernie Sanders is an idiot. As a long time VT resident, let me say that he does not speak for the people of VT. He is a Socialist to the core, and if we listen to anything he has to say we will all be wearing drab grey clothing and waiting in line for bread. He is a joke.

    December 10, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  10. dgmgdm

    *looks up* did someone say something?!

    December 10, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. They call me "Tater Salad"

    How about a little less talk and a little more action?............. Sound like a plan?............... Works for me!!!!!

    December 10, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. Roger Bland

    Unbelieveable!! Not a word on the content of Sanders' speech!! CNN refuses to cover the news other than in the most superficial manner. Shame.

    December 10, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  13. Albo58

    This senile, wealth redistribution thief needs to be retired now! His point he's trying to grandstand is that Americans are NOT entitled to their earnings, but rather the government should swoop in and take as much as they can in order to give it to people that do NOT pay taxes! He's not Robin Hood, he's Bernie the hood!

    December 10, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. Morrie

    Bernie Sanders is awesome beyond words. I want him to be president. 🙁

    December 10, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  15. David

    It was wonderful Senator Sanders. You made me proud to be an American again.

    December 10, 2010 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. bobcn1

    Sander talked for over 8 hours and all CNN can find to report was that he did it. Not a single quote from his speech nor any comment at all about what he actually said!?!

    December 10, 2010 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  17. Jim Summers

    Hooray for Senator Sanders. He is highlighting what a bunk or garbage this tax deal is.

    December 10, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  18. Marc

    Bravo Senator! Too few Americans know what you did today. I only hope that you resume your dazzling spectacle of oratory might on Monday. Best wishes, an individual who wishes he lived in Vermont.

    December 10, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  19. AJH

    Long-winded politicians! 🙂

    December 10, 2010 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  20. Rick

    My hero!!

    December 10, 2010 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  21. Zero10

    So this moron talked for 8 straight hours on a day when the Senate wasn't even debating on anything? Sounds smart.

    December 10, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  22. Rick CT

    Thanks Barry for another great waste of taxpayers money.

    December 10, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  23. Ancient Texan

    The loony socialist can talk until doomsday, but demonizing people that work hard, take care of business, take risks, hire people, do a service to thier community, pay taxes on a local, state, and national level is sheer lunacy. Nowhere in the constitution does it say the government shall be endowed with the power to steal from one group of citizens and give it to another group that doesn't contribute anything except a vote for the government that gives them a handout.

    December 10, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  24. SPLAT!~

    Wghen he started this speech, he had coal black hair and his glasses were in style!~

    December 10, 2010 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  25. TamarS

    This man shows courage. The Democrats yield-cower-compromise because the Republicans THREATEN to filibuster. This is as bad as the 70's when politicians feared impeaching Nixon. We had a system in place to address his misbehavior but Congress and the Senate lacked courage to use/ test it. I see the same here. So the Republicans THREATEN filibuster. Let them. All they can do is reveal their ineptitude and incoherence. Can you see McCain producing a coherent speech? Neither can I. The thing is - it doesn't need to be. He could sing "Polly Waddle Doodla All Day" (if he knows the words). I say let them entertain us. They certainly aren't WORKING for us. None of them – Republican or Democrat or Tea Party.

    December 10, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
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