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. Kala Thomas

    I would just like to mention that Senator Sanders is not a part of President Obama's party, he is an independent. He caucuses with Democrats and for purposes of committee assignments he is listed as a Democrat but he is an independent. He actually considers himself a socialist. Please post correct information.

    December 11, 2010 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  2. RG

    You go Bernie, you're my hero. Maybe more people will realize that both parties are bought and paid for by the rich. We need more independants.

    December 11, 2010 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  3. joe

    the beginning .. of the end...

    December 11, 2010 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  4. Jerry Bray

    Finally someone is talking about what needed to be said and stopped. Thankyou senator, too bad the senators from Missouri don't feel the same way!

    December 11, 2010 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  5. ArtInChicago

    Good for you Senator Sanders. It least you have the guts to follow your convictions and not roll over at the slightest pressure.

    December 11, 2010 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  6. Mary Mika

    way to go!!! keep blocking – The WORKING middle class is being crushed by that bill – do not vote for it. We can't keep paying the bills for everyone – let the >250 pay some more.

    December 11, 2010 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  7. NoTax

    Libs is weak, only 8 hours, so little for fat, bold lib, muxa xa xa

    December 11, 2010 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  8. GloSeattle

    I'm so happy we're spending our tax dollars on his salary so he can do this – yay team!

    December 11, 2010 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  9. Kathryn McHenry

    I can only hope that people have REALLY listened to what this man has said and will finally put a stop to all of this madness in Washington. If not, they deserve what they will get. Bernie is a true American hero!

    December 11, 2010 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  10. Steve

    I listened to this for a few hours and everything he was saying made complete sense. Good for him in getting it off his chest even though all the poloticians won't stand on their own two feet and will simply follow the leader on a bunch of wasted US tax payers dollars fluffed into the bill and continued tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires when our deficit is simply continuing to balloon on it's way to popping and making our once wonderful country 2nd class.

    December 11, 2010 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  11. nutjob

    Tis is a man doing the right thing, I wonder if anyone knows this?

    Please support him, he s doing the right thing for Americans

    December 11, 2010 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  12. concerned

    Imagine that, a Senator talking a lot.... and once again with no action.

    December 11, 2010 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  13. KSfromABQ

    We need 60 more like this!

    December 11, 2010 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  14. Ambear

    Bernie Sanders for President!

    December 11, 2010 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  15. Brian Boudreau

    Why don't you mention everything that he talked about. It was very well thought out and not rambling. He tells the truth about the current state of politics and the country.

    December 11, 2010 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  16. hnicgm

    Absolutely ridiculous

    December 11, 2010 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  17. Krehator

    It may not be a filibuster but it is acting like an irrational child. Our govt leaders have no concept to morals. I don't care what party they belong to, they all set a poor example with this junk and squabbling over the interpretations. I am so sick of this government.

    December 11, 2010 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  18. pat

    The unemployment extension people so desperately need happens to be a part of that extension bill....pass the damn thing. The millions recieving those benefits with no job and no source of income? Geez you think this is a recession , without people recieving those unemployment checks this economy will become a depression; Forget about the recession. Crime will also skyrocket because desperate people in desparate times do desparate things to survive.

    December 11, 2010 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Wow, way to say absolutely nothing about what Sanders' objections were.

    December 11, 2010 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  20. Malacki

    Does anyone still wonder why the government never gets anything done?

    December 11, 2010 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  21. Baruch

    Bernie stands for regular working people, for kids and the elderly, for the poor and disenfranchised. Thank you Bernie for having the courage of your convictions, something rare in Washington DC. Unlike the millionaire republicans who want to vote themselves a tax cut extension, Bernie has refused every raise Congress has voted for itself, donating the raise money to charity. He's voted against every congressional raise and not kept any of the money congress gave itself. He is right on when he talks about how most americans are getting screwed. Anyone in congress who doesn't get behind Bernie and the american will be out next election, count on it.

    December 11, 2010 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  22. SandersRULZ!

    Thank you Senator Sanders for doing what is right for us common American folk.

    December 11, 2010 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  23. thatguy371

    Good for Senator Sanders. Someone has to make a statement.

    December 11, 2010 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  24. PH Veteran GWOT

    Come on Mooney. How the hell did you get this job to be a news producer? His "filibuster" isn't news.

    Where is any content of his speech? You just mention he opposes the tax cuts. You do not mention he only against the tax break for the wealthy nor did you include that at least he has answers to the current deficit. Which many republicans do not wish to address until they think the current administration will fail and take credit for next year. Do you wish for Americans to stay uninformed? Not everyone working today was able to watch CSPAN if you haven't noticed. You're terrible. Even high school journalists know news isn't all about getting readership. News is state facts for those who are unable to get it. News is to bring _New_ things to light of the public. No records were set on this "filibuster" so tell me why is "filibuster" the main subject of this?

    December 11, 2010 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  25. Bren

    good to know our tax dollars are hard at work here???

    get over it already

    December 11, 2010 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
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