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. Carlos Fuentes

    I wish we had more principled senators like Bernie Sanders to protect us from the class warfare launched by the rich against middle class Americans

    December 11, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  2. Russ, Monticello, FL

    Good for you Senator Sanders. I listened to some of it (sorry, couldn't do 8 hours) and you told the truth. This giving tax breaks to the millionaires/billionaires paid for with borrowed Chinese money is harming America. The Republican leadership continues to damage America as they have done for 30 years, exporting our industries, pillaging our economy through the banks, impoverishing the working and middle class, fostering multiple forms of discrimination, strategically strengthening our adversaries, wasting and weakening our military, undermining our educational system, threatening our and the world's environment, imperiling our energy supplies, funding our enemies. As we decline, their only interest seems to be grabbing all they can get from a wounded country. People, we've got to dump these enemies and get America rising again.

    December 11, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  3. Calvin

    Interesting. CNN showed a summary of his 'talk.' He constantly railed against the 'top one percent'. It was very, very hateful. In other circumstances substituting different gorups he would have been shouted down. It was purely hate All the way.

    December 11, 2010 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. Phil Muse

    Good for you, Bernie Sanders! With the Bush tax cuts in place, we would have a catastrophic shortfall in federal revenue. Conservativeswould use it to slash all kinds of key federal programs – except, of course, funding for the two wars in the Middle East, which is their sacred cow. Enough is enough: get us out of the wars, and take care of America's needs right here at home!

    December 11, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. Diane

    Thank you for standing up for what you believe in.
    Reminds me of hearing senator Byrd rail against the invasion of Iraq. Oh, yeah, and he was right.

    December 11, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  6. Willy4

    What a putz!!!

    December 11, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. Scott Trent

    Taxes brackets in it`s simplest form. A guy is EARNING $1 Million a year and the top tax bracket is 35%. On paper (that`s before the horrid 13,000 pages of IRS tax code kicks in) he will pay about $300,000 a year in taxes. Think sports, ok. Now this other guy (Chuck) stays up all night smoking dope and pretty much is an outlaw or a thug and he does just enough to get by in life. He makes $18,000 a year. The bottom tax bracket is set at 10% (thanks to Bush – it was 15% but W gave this guy a tax break). Chuck pays $1,800 a year in income taxes and will pay ZERO in income taxes after he qualifies for tax credits yet he is the Obama supporter who is screaming for Obama to raise taxes on the evil rich guy because he needs to pay his fair share. The guy is already paying $300,000 a year and the guy screaming at him is paying NOTHING. Go figure.

    December 11, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. larry loebig

    How many of the CNN newscasters and "journalists" are demonstrating a conflict of interest in reporting and interviewing the tax cuts for the rich? When you look at the screen and hear them talk about the social benefits of giving breaks to the rich...they are the rich.

    December 11, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. Gary

    He must be an idiot.

    December 11, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Emile Zola

    What a hell of a senator. I would be willing to trade the whole Texas congress, all of them, for Mr Sanders. What I don't understand is why America that knows is in the worst of times, always chooses the worst candidates and expects things to improve. go figure. I'm 1000% usre that if Bernie Sanders were elected president and given a congress that cares more for its citizens than for corporate America, we could reclaim the moral and fiscal status we had when our founding fathers started this project of democracy. I'll even include Arizona, Utah congress representatives.

    December 11, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. 1077American

    are we as Americans getting our moneys worth out of this goverment ?

    December 11, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. Jim

    Deranged, senile old idiot!

    December 11, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  13. Glenn

    I think he was trying to avoid going home to his wife 🙂 PS I love my wife.

    December 11, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  14. Edward

    Bravo Senator Sanders. A fantastic speech. How did you keep me endlessly interested? I could not get away ffrom your intelligent comentary.

    December 11, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  15. Lisa Jane Clarke

    Bernie's speech should be front page news everywhere.
    Why isn't it? He's got your back, America. That's newsworthy.

    December 11, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. John

    God bless that wonderful man!

    December 11, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  17. Margaret

    We need to close at least two of him to every state, and one more for the WH!

    December 11, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  18. Ramon F. Herrera

    The Senile Senator (not to mention lonely)...

    December 11, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. matt

    Party of no operating again! Get real liberals, we know who the real obstructionists are.

    December 11, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  20. USA 1

    Finally, someone taklking common sense! We need to listen to him, he is RIGHT!

    December 11, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. Gimeabreak

    Continue tax breaks for to very people that lead us into the worst recession in history....PLEASE

    Wealthy people are always looking for a government handout

    December 11, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. Todd

    Wealthfare. It should have a name after all

    December 11, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Give Billionaires a tax Break, then the Texas Rangers can offer Cliff Lee more millions to play for them. Trickle down at it's finest!

    December 11, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. NoGOP12

    Give billionaires a tax break! Then the can offer Cliff Lee many more millions to play for them. Trickle down at it's finest!

    December 11, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  25. Rob

    Stay classy in hell Strom Thurmond

    December 11, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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