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. Steve

    You da man Bernie.

    December 11, 2010 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  2. mike

    Obama has plenty of stimulus money left to cover the unemployment insurance.Secondly,he should be using the money that create or saves jobs now.He should be working with business to help pay the salary of new hires ,not tax cuts which have resulted in record profits and layoffs.He should bypass the large banks which resulted in record bonuses and start dealing directly through local banks to address the housing crisis.It is time for him to stop focusing on the GOP and do the things that he can do sucessfully.He ordered the FED to cut the prime rate which filled the top with cash,now it is time to order the FED to set consumer interest rates rather than the borrowing money from China because of a payroll cut.Most wealthy ,just like when Bush added them in the beginning, would rather help AMERICA than pocket unneeded money.The rich for the most part have the same idea about the social security cutoff.The rich really love AMERICA and many have had to flee their country because of the economic conditions.Why the GOP is doing this against their wishes is a complete mystery.

    December 11, 2010 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  3. Charlotte Crist

    Sorry I missed it.. ! Does anyone have a copy...?

    December 11, 2010 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  4. Anonymous

    This communist wack-job is ignorant and oblivious to history. In fact it was not Reagan or Bush but, JFK who was the first one to use tax credits for everyone to fix an ailing economy. Obviously, what the Democrats have been doing hasn't worked. Perhaps, our inept commander and cheif (Obama) has learned a few things by now and is backing the Bush tax credits. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that spending your way out of a recession by doubleing the national debt or Keynesian economics doesn't work. ...if the Democrats continue what they're doing we are looking at a total economic collpse!

    December 11, 2010 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  5. Yooper

    Simply put this man was right on yesteday...there are republican and democrat that are millionaires that will benefit from this bill and he called them out. The only losers in this bill are the middle class and the poor...get rid of all of them in 2012..let's clean house, and that means no Palin either she is now one of them.....

    December 11, 2010 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  6. Ron Matthews

    Bernie should move to Cuba. It's warmer and more in line with his political views.

    December 11, 2010 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  7. Eli

    "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."

    This is sloppy or uninformed journalism. Sanders and Obama are not members of the same party, and stating that "Sanders normally caucuses with Democrats" doesn't negate this fact.

    December 11, 2010 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  8. J Collings

    I guess we're all wondering what part of the deal, in particular, didn't he like, why, and what did he propose instead?

    December 11, 2010 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  9. Bear

    A simple, "No!" and then ELMO (enough let's move on) would suffice in the real world. But, Congress has no working experience. Just drama at a cost to the taxpayers. Need to abolish the Democrats and Republicans and return government to it's intended function of upholding the Constitution.

    December 11, 2010 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  10. Jack Foxe

    Well it's about time the good Senator finally shut up. All his jibber-jabber was fruitless and he did not change a thing. He just wasted time as do many others sitting in Congress.

    December 11, 2010 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  11. mike mccleese

    God bless Bernie Sanders. The ONLY politician I trust. The truth about NAFTA and CAFTA and the guts to say it. Where can I get a Bernie Sanders for President bumper sticker? It was so refreshing to hear a person with common sense tell the truth about the failed trade deals, exporting of American jobs, and rapid decline of the middle class. Giving tax breaks to the wealthy produces jobs so we are told. Since the Bush era tax cuts we have lost 6 million jobs. We cannot afford to add one trillion to the nation's debt. I am so glad the Republicans are being "conservative" with our tax dollars. God help us.

    December 11, 2010 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  12. lkeller

    The news of this article is how long he talked and not a summary of what he said. This is journalism? What a waste of time.

    December 11, 2010 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  13. Willy Brown

    What a waste of time but he’s an old sour socialist.

    December 11, 2010 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  14. Roon

    Democrats: The party of "la la la la la la la la la!" with fingers in their ears

    December 11, 2010 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  15. Purnell

    "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. " I'm sure his state was very proud of him.

    December 11, 2010 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  16. True American

    good for the senator. it is going to take an independent to stop the GOP spending and debt increasing.

    December 11, 2010 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  17. Jack

    Any bets the guy never once asked the people her represents in his home State what they want??? These politicians think they get cart blanch when they get elected. I hope he lost his voice for a month cause of this ridiculous speech.

    December 11, 2010 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  18. Michael

    An honest politician representing the people, not the corporations.

    December 11, 2010 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  19. D. Bunker

    It's about time the GOBPbaggers got a taste of their own obstructionist medicine. Now the Dems need to step up to the plate and put the teatards on record as (a) favoring deficit-increasing tax breaks for the ultrarich and (b) refusing to provide relief to the unemployed.

    PS: It would also be nice if someone in our so-called "liberal" media would point out the GOBP voted, almost unanimously, to block a law benefitting 9/11 first responders. These nutjobs do not care one bit about America's poor and middle class. They are an embarassment to our country and to the idea of "conservativism."

    December 11, 2010 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  20. Kathy Smith

    It is a shame they didn't do this with the healthcare bill. I will never trust them again after shoving that bill down our throats and adding soooo much non medical in that bill. And telling the American people that they just needed to pass it and they would read it later. I have never purchased insurance that way in my life. At least I know what the tax cuts are. He can talk all day and all night. Repeal Obama care and start over. Give me a plan so I know what is going on. I believe the poorest need health coverage but I want to know how it will be paid for first.

    December 11, 2010 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. Richard

    Why would you waste your time and mine writing this article about the length of Senator Sanders' speech rather then reporting on the content. What did he say in the 8+ hours he was on the floor????????

    December 11, 2010 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  22. rockloper

    8 1/2 hours of telling the truth no less

    December 11, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  23. hozo1

    we need a whole new system of government ... Washington plays and the country burns

    December 11, 2010 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  24. Michael

    How come we do not have another 99 sanders in the Senate? . All independents with the citizens coming first.

    December 11, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  25. nate

    I'm afraid that in the era of Dancing with the Stars and pop-culture politics, honest and intelligent public servants like Sanders, won't be able to get their message through to the average citizen. I'm sending this guy a check for energy drinks.

    December 11, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
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