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. eleanor fitzgerald

    Senator Sanders speaks with conviction and fire in the belly against extending Bush tax cuts without further negotiation and modification. I applaud his effots!

    December 10, 2010 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  2. Carl LaFong

    The only man in politics that has the courage of his convictions to DO SOMETHING!

    December 10, 2010 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  3. BD

    He stuffed their stockings with the gift of gab.

    December 10, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. RobRoy

    We need many more men like this in Congress. Great Job Bernie Sanders don't ever stop fighting the good fight.

    December 10, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  5. Paddlefoot

    Good for him... for swallowing the republican BS, the whole of the US deserves to see taxes go up in January.

    December 10, 2010 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  6. Chavez

    Good to see someone standing up or the middle class...and more importantly for our children. The Republican desire to serve their billionaire overlords is nothing short of appalling.

    December 10, 2010 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  7. Peter E

    The biggest myth that needs to be dispelled is that tax cuts somehow create jobs. There is no evidence supporting this theory. Reagan's tax cuts yielded two recessions. Bush Jr.s tax cuts had him finishing his first term still with a net loss of jobs, and his second term plunged us into the current recession. In contrast, Clinton raised taxes and yet the economy boomed during the 90s.
    The rich just pocket the tax cuts. They have zero incentive to create jobs. Why create jobs, when they can just nudge their politician and pundit allies to scare the public into giving them tax cuts?

    December 10, 2010 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  8. rdepontb

    Dear Senator Sanders,

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

    From an old NH "neighbor" now in Baltimore. I wish you colleagues had shown your spirit of country all along; would not be in this mess. The Republicans, apparently with some Democrats' complicity, have managed to ruin the judgment capabilities of this President. Thank you for helping rein in some of the damage.

    December 10, 2010 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  9. David

    Meh, give a man that age *any* topic to discuss and they'll go on for hours. And hours. And hours. Though if he actually managed to stay on topic the entire time, I'd be very impressed.

    December 10, 2010 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  10. Jayson

    Ok ok we get it you don't like this deal with the GOP over the tax deal that Obama made. 8 hours though, come on you are becoming a running joke. Does he really think anyone is actully listening to what he is saying. The American people don't give a damn about what you think is right or wrong what the American people want is for our elected leaders to stop yelling at each other and actully work together to get something done. This tax deal is not what I wanted to see as a republican, and it doesn't seem the Dems are happy about it either. To me that means its a good deal.

    December 10, 2010 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  11. Robert Johnson

    "how strongly some members of Obama's own party are against the deal ". Sanders is not a member of Obama's party. He runs as an independent, caucuses with the Democrats, and is the only member of Congress who actually calls himself a socialist. He is far to the left of Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Weiner, or anyone else in Congress, for that matter. Vermonters love an eccentric.

    December 10, 2010 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  12. myk c.

    Classic example of "more talk, less action."

    December 10, 2010 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  13. Aaron

    No matter what you think of Senator Sanders' political philosophy (I tend to agree with nearly all of it, though not so much on the Second Amendment stuff) he's one of a handful of politicians that can truly be counted on for their honesty, integrity, and common sense. You'll always know where this senator stands because he's fearless and a true American. Living in a time when branding has become a substitute for clarity Senator Sanders reminds us that some politicians truly do have the best interests of the people in mind.

    December 10, 2010 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  14. Samuel

    Senator Sanders, I'm donating for your reelection campaign in 2010. You are one of the most honest men in our government. Keep fighting for us.

    December 10, 2010 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. Dave

    Would the left PLEASE STOP with the class warfare crap!! Bernie Sanders is an ADMITTED Socialist.

    What is this bill really doing? It is keeping the tax rates: the same. NO ONE is getting a cut!!!!!!!!!! This is ridiculous.

    So why the fight from the left wing? Because they are clueless at how to balance a budget and cut spending and stop fraud and waste and abuse. Basically the government has spent out of control (Both parties) and now the left wants the wealthy in the nation to pay for it. Screw them. Force government to learn how to do a budget and hold them accountable. Until they do, NO ONE needs to have taxes raised

    December 10, 2010 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  16. antoinette wynn

    I Think its a good tax plan. he need to be focusing on why social security aint get pay raises. why its so hard for people to get loans when they have the income and there credit is not good and that person has the colletoral. we need to focus on those issues too. my husband was getting unemployment and they stopped it because no funds. they also need to focus on. if i get a job almost all of my check goes to the babysitter and what am i to do then. we need payday loans in georgia

    December 10, 2010 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  17. roro

    This man is my hero! Go, Bernie, go!

    December 10, 2010 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. Dyan

    God bless, Bernie Sanders!

    December 10, 2010 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  19. jeff in pa

    Bernie, Thanks you are a true patriot, I like both clinton and obama, however they are both wrong on this. Just say no to tax breaks for the rich. If this goes thru, the middle class is really going to get the shaft, they will get away with cutting social security and medicare, and that is their true agenda all along. wake up american and help Bernie Sanders stop the Temporary insanity of Obama and Clinton. Again this makes no sense, both of these men have always been against tax breaks for the rich, why are they pushing for this, what has changed?, the only thing that makes sense is they don't think the economy is going to improve and then they can say see the tax breaks for the rich didn't help? This a way to much money to lose to the treasury to make a political point. The Middle class is about tapped out. Where do you think the money is going to come from? Want to save money, stop both and the senseless wars now. problem solved.

    December 10, 2010 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  20. sara

    CNN: seems like the true story here is not how long Senator Sanders spoke or whether or not it was technically a filibuster...your article would be better served to tell your readers what the man had to say on these issues!

    December 10, 2010 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  21. Boycotts Work

    Bernie is the real deal.A man for the middle class.

    December 10, 2010 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  22. JiminNM

    Sanders, why don't you support all the takers and users? Why don't you quit the Senate and lead charitable organizations funded only by private donations to give to the takers and users? Are you not capable? Is it just easier to steal from the hard working responsible citizens, the real Americans?

    December 10, 2010 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  23. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    I hope Congress tells President Obama NO on the Bush era tax extension for the ultra wealthy and makes it stick...
    I would rather pay more myself if that's the only way to get the rich to step up.

    December 10, 2010 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  24. HS

    ...."the move adds a dramatic picture to just how strongly some members of Obama's own party...." Uh, hello, in your own article you state that Sanders is NOT a member of the Democratic party. Just because he mostly caucuses with the Democratic doesn't mean that he is one, and the quote made doesn't apply. What bad writing!

    December 10, 2010 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  25. Daniel

    Give 'em hell Bernie.

    December 10, 2010 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
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