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. chris

    but NO ONE is listening because Americans have lost hope in the Congress. Its all a BS political game of rich guys in suits. Yucko!

    December 10, 2010 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  2. SGTJ

    I could not be prouder to be an American than I am today. Good Job Sen Sanders!

    December 10, 2010 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  3. John Sauerzopf

    If we're all lucky, there will be no agreement and the cuts will expire. Then if they come up again in the new congress, Obama will be able to use his veto power to kill them for good, or at least a better deal.

    December 10, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  4. tontosh

    What a great job he did. A 69 year old man stood there without any break and fought for the cause and our president gave in without a single punch, how sad.

    December 10, 2010 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. jayman419

    Imagine if they were willing to talk this long in support of something.

    December 10, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  6. Rob

    Waste of taxpayer dollars to let someone talk all day long. Give me a break go back to vermont and milk a cow

    December 10, 2010 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  7. Tom

    Well it seems ther is some sanity left in washington. Way to go Sanders.

    December 10, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  8. mike

    I caught quite a good chunk of this and the man makes an extremely sound argument. I wish this was broadcast live on all news channels rather than whatever commentator or pundit who is repeating their usual narrative. Mr. Sanders enlisted simple, straight forward facts that if any American did real research on would see how accurate they are and how ridiculous this "compromise" truly is.

    December 10, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. Reid

    How is this not on the front page?

    December 10, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  10. Corey

    Good for him! If only more of our politicians were so adamant to do what is right.

    I think perhaps what disturbs me about this article is the last bit about the Senate video server. Can it truly not handle a capacity of 12,000 people? There are over 300 million people in the United States and there is so little interest in what is happening in our Senate that they don't even bother with having sufficient bandwidth. Nobody cares any more.

    December 10, 2010 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  11. 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 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  12. Alex

    Buhler ... Buhler ... Buhler ... Buhler ...

    December 10, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  13. Mary

    I was one of how ever many people who watched Sen. Saunders speech/filibuster. I thought it was very courageous to be so transparent about his position. He didn't make threats, get personal, he simply laid out what he thought his differences were. Even more importantly he offered suggestions and solutions. I only wish that other democrats and republicans would do the same. CNN should have live broadcasted this in an effort to educate the viewers as to how the Senate should work. You can see and hear exactly what he was about. The cloture rule just keeps all of the discussions to 30 second sound bites in the press. Where are the days that CNN would show gavel to gavel coverage of important hearings ,etc. I wish more Senators were as courageous. I'd love to hear the other side of the aisle would justify more of the same thing we just had could somehow magically create more jobs than it has in the last eight years. I would love to hear how encroaching on Social Security with taking the money from the program would serve our long term deficit problems. I would love to hear the Republicans honestly tell the American people that doing a deal of on the estate tax will give the Republicans the justification of gutting the social safety net in the name of deficit reduction. There were people like myself who live outside of the beltway that watched this drama.

    December 10, 2010 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    He actually had some good things to say.

    December 10, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  15. c3po

    I wish I lived in VT so I could vote for this guy.

    December 10, 2010 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  16. Damon

    Why not report on the substance of Sen. Sanders speech instead of breathlessly reporting on the mere length? You are missing a huge chance.

    December 10, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  17. more lies from HUSSENI obama

    do all of us a favor, SHUT UP, America LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT and we wish you would just LEAVE

    December 10, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  18. Danny

    He is an inspiration. Its a shame we dont have more senators like him

    December 10, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  19. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    Thank you Bernie.

    December 10, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  20. conoclast

    How can the congressional dem's and Obama be so not-on-the-same-page?! If the deal is anything like how the White House describes it it's a win-win situation - except for the outrageous handout to the super-rich. But it's temporary, right?
    So give the republican brats their little victory. Put your ego's away now and maybe even take care of some of the country's business!

    December 10, 2010 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  21. eleanor fitzgerald

    Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont, has fire in the belly and speaks from conviction. I share his belief that the Bush tax cuts should not be extended without modification. The sooner the better!

    December 10, 2010 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  22. Daver

    I just wanted to add, uhh, uhh, ------->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    December 10, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  23. Stryker

    Senator Sanders is a true American hero. A man of principle, and a man of the people. Thank you Senator Sanders for fighting for our country when the President won't.

    December 10, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  24. eleanor fitzgerald

    Senator Sanders has fire in the belly and speaks with conviction. I share his opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts without modification. Further negotiation is necessary!

    December 10, 2010 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  25. Ned Buratovich

    I applaud Senator Sanders' principled (and unfortunately, solitary) stand against the extension of tax cuts to the wealthiest. Those wealthiest have benefited disproportionately from our society and the time is long since past for the wealthy to shoulder a more fair and balanced cost of assisting our nation in these distressed times.

    December 10, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
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