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. Jimii

    rock on – I love seeing someone with the passion to stand up and say THIS IS CRAZY – I was a big Obama fan but he has let Americans down and the republicans must get big bucks from the top 2 – 3% of the voting public to push us further into debt after all the mouthing off they did about no more increasing of the deficit! They are all hypocrits, how bad does it have to get before someone shows some courage and speaks the truth. So why not even let the Bush tax breaks continue for the 1st million dollars that people make – I have never seen that kind of $ and most of have not but when this country is so strapped – asking the multi mullionares to pay a couple of bucks more for the sake of America seems reasonable – and by the way, did anyone notice that the extended unemploy will not even be available for those at 99 weeks , so all the folks who will be on the streets soon are still goners – hopefully unemployment is slowing down so the most devistated are the long termers who can't get a job or even pay rent. All crazy

    December 10, 2010 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  2. laural

    Democrats finally standing up a day late and a dollar short? Where were u wusses when u were pretending 2 b republicans 2 get a vote which u didnt! Ur out of there anyway so do the right thing and pass some bills. And dont u dare leave for holiday till every one of them is passed including Dadt!

    December 10, 2010 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  3. david williams

    Way to go! I agree with all you said.

    December 10, 2010 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  4. Jay

    Maybe he should have spent those 8 hours looking for somone who cares...

    December 10, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  5. Gary Cameron

    Ol' Colonel Sanders hates successful people because they have achieved what he is incapable of-making it in the real world. He should be kissing the feet of the rich because they pay his salary. The do-nothings and have-nots will never have anything that isn't given to them because they think like Bernie.
    You freeloading libs should should ask yourselves, "how could we survive without the rich (successful) footing the bill for everything we have?".

    December 10, 2010 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  6. bobster

    about time somebody with a pair stands up to these freaken repubs who in the last adminastration screwed the country-up sooooooo bad and the idiots, how stupid can americans be to put people like them back in power! Dirty low down scondrows.

    December 10, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  7. Ira Maki

    I think Sen. Sanders is the man and wish he was my states sentor. What the rich are doing is un-American moving there money over seas and getting fat checks from the IRS it is high time someone stood up to Washington and made it clear that some Americans do know what you are doing and we will not sit sighletly by... however the press could give the issue better coverage.

    December 10, 2010 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. Richard in California

    Go Senator Sanders! Finally, a Democrat with a backbone, defending his principles, and US's future! THIS is change *I* can believe in!

    December 10, 2010 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  9. Skru-Face

    I found his comments about the Fed very interesting. Is the stuff he was saying about the Fed true? If so why aren't more people in government talking about it?

    December 10, 2010 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  10. billy

    Say what you want but Senator Sanders is right on the button. Wall street and the federal government screwed the American
    people and then will make our children pay for their GREED. I hope Nigeria arrests and puts in jail dick cheney cuz he is one
    of the reasons greed is rampart in DC.

    December 11, 2010 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  11. Peter

    A real hero. While Ma and Pa RedState and their third grade education vote their way to their own extinction, at least someone is standing up for the real America.

    Its nice to see somone with the guts to fight for what is right.

    December 11, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  12. Rob

    Fire them all! They are wasting YOUR tax dollars to grandstand and make a name for themselves. FIRE THEM ALL!

    December 11, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  13. DanteX

    God – I love this Man.

    Senator Bernie Sanders is a TRUE American Hero and he is about what is decent and good for hard-working Americans.

    The citizens of the Great State of Vermont should be EXTREMELY proud of this Man and they are EXTREMELY fortunate to be represented by him in the United States Senate.

    December 11, 2010 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  14. Elizabeth

    Too bad he didn't do this right before the midterm elections when the President asked congress to pass a tax bill and he would campaign on it. His little too-late temper tantrum is just a show to make progressives feel good about themselves..........looks like it's working. It's my understanding that this wasn't even a filabuster and does nothing to stop the bill from being voted on. The bill will be introduced on Monday so tell me what was this alll about again. Isn't it Ironic that the same progessives that bragged about not voting during the midterms are now crying the loudest that they are not getting everything they want. Doesn't seem like it was such a great strategy now does it?

    December 11, 2010 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  15. Gaylon Barrow THE UNBIASED THRUTH!

    There's idiots born everyday. Let this idiot go until he drops. Maybe he won't get up.

    December 11, 2010 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  16. Chip H

    "We won't be a truly successful nation until 75-year old widows are sweeping
    WalMart parking lots for food subsidy debit cards as 'independent contractors'. "

    December 11, 2010 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  17. Daws

    In a country of party politics, it takes an independent. Parties are often overrated in my opinion. We shouldn't be ruled by republicans or democrats, but people who care, people with honest ideas. This article was aptly titled, for it hasn't been since seeing that referenced movie that I've really felt a civic pride, and a wish, and a hope ...for America, in how it could be, and should be. Unfortunately I fear that instead of, how in the movie fellow senators came around slowly to listen, most are away, and letting it fall on deaf ears. Fortunately in this electronic age we can hear this around the world, again and again, to lift and inspire, and with hope: change. And for that chance, thank you Mr. Sanders.

    December 11, 2010 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  18. Werkie

    Bernie Sanders is a hero. I wish my Iowa Congressmen had the guts that he does. I am still listening to him and he speaks the truth. He's avoiding death panel opinions. I wonder why.

    December 11, 2010 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  19. db

    Another Vermont sap sucker.

    December 11, 2010 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  20. suebon

    First, Sanders is an Independent in name only. Same as Lieberman. Both are Dems. I agree with keeping the tax rates as they are for all people. Not into class warfare, and the "rich" already pay more than their fair share. I'm sure (wink wink) that Sen Sanders doesn't take one tax exemption since he's so against people who can pay more not paying more. I am against extending unemployment benefits since, of the few people I know who are unemployed, not one is looking for work until their benefits run out. I'm really against all the bribes Reid has added to try & get votes. The Social Security cut is going to be an accounting nightmare for every company out there, going to cost a fortune to implement, a very dumb idea.

    December 11, 2010 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  21. Jon

    The speech on C-Span 2 is something every American should see. Sanders tells the true story of how our country is already a third world country in many respects. He describes the reality of a country increasingly co-opted by the wealthy, for the wealthy, to the detriment of almost everybody else. Broad prosperity is best, but the Republican Party has helped America become a nation of narrow prosperity for the wealthy few.

    December 11, 2010 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  22. billclinton4

    the dems are so screwed, if this doesn't get passed, you can kiss obama's chances in 2012 goodbye because we're all going to be unemployed

    December 11, 2010 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  23. travelpro

    This senator needs to go home and talk to his tree while the others can actually try to do something to make a difference in this country! Worthless, stupid and wasteful! What a shame!

    December 11, 2010 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  24. Gary

    Every Senator should have the guts of Senator Sanders to speak his mind and lay out a compelling case before the American people. Almost every filibuster is now done in secrecy without the Senator calling for the filibuster daring to stand forth and let the nation see who it is that is blocking passage. On the points he was arguing, I agree with Senator Sanders sense of outrage at the plutocratic, oligarchic, corporatocracy that spends $3.5 billion a year lobbying to corrupt our government to their will, and $ billions more on deceptive messaging and campaign contributions to yield policies that have decimated the middle class while massively enriching the top 0.3%. I also agree that the continuation of this tax policy is destructive to the nation's long term well being. But even if I did not agree with a Senator's on this particular issue, I commend him for at least having the decency to state his case in public and to do so, that every American can see who it is that stands against a bill and why.

    December 11, 2010 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  25. John, Missouri

    Even though I voted republican last November I stand behind the democrats on this bill. I listened to about four hours of his speech and he laid so much information out on the table and provided so much insight into what's going on in Washington and on Wall Street, that there is no way I could support the republicans and the presidents bill. I had lost a lot of respect for the democrats over the last two years, but after listening to his speech about why passing this tax bill in it's current form is bad for the American people, democrats gained some of that respect back today. I encourage others to listen to his speech, it gives a so much insight and is a must see.

    December 11, 2010 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
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