Cruz finishes 21-hour speech on ObamaCare

"I would call on all 46 Republicans to unite, to stand together and vote against cloture on the bill," Cruz said as his final words, which were met with applause. "Because otherwise if we vote with the Senate Leader and Democrats we will be voting to allow the majority leader to strip defunding ObamaCare from the measure."

Cruz yielded the floor at noon, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a floor discussion with him that he could go until 1 p.m. if he wanted. Cruz said he was under a different impression, and would yield at noon.

Cruz did propose that he be allowed to speak later in the day, saying that he pledged to talk until he can't stand anymore, and that he still has some energy left.

"Although I am weary, there is still at least strength in my legs to stand a little longer," he said.

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The marathon talkfest came just days after Cruz said he would do anything possible to maintain language in a House continuing resolution that would defund ObamaCare. Cruz is one of several Republicans who oppose a Democratic plan to advance the resolution with GOP support and then get a simple majority to take out the Affordable Care Act language later in the process.

"If Republicans vote with Democrats, then this body will cut off debate on this bill," Cruz said Tuesday. "And we are silencing the voice of the Senate and the voice of the people."

Cruz has been the center of attention on the defunding issue, but also the center of criticism from Republicans who see no point in delaying legislation to fund the government in order to push the idea of defunding the law, especially given Democratic control of the Senate and the White House. Cruz rejected this criticism several times Tuesday and Wednesday, and called on all GOP senators to support his fight to defund ObamaCare.

But other than providing a rallying point for opponents of ObamaCare, Cruz's marathon session was essentially a symbolic stand. Several Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have said they don't support delaying the bill.

Cruz's filibuster was also more of a delay tactic than an attempt to block the bill. Senate Democrats already filed a motion to end debate on the motion to proceed to the bill, which means the vote to end debate will happen by Wednesday regardless of Cruz's filibuster.

That prompted Reid to declare on Tuesday that Cruz's remarks would not be a filibuster at all. His staff followed up with a tweet later that said Cruz's filibuster is "fake."

"Fun fact: Senator Cruz pre-negotiated the terms of his #fakefilibuster with Senator Reid yesterday. Not exactly a Mr. Smith moment," tweeted Adam Jentleson, Reid's communications director.

However, the Senate website says a filibuster is any attempt to block or delay legislation, which means his remarks could be seen as a talking filibuster that delays the bill, even if it had no ability to stop it.

Cruz himself didn't label his remarks one way or the other, and instead repeated that his speech is an attempt to "make D.C. listen."

"I rise today in opposition to ObamaCare in an effort to speak for 26 million Texans and 300 million Americans," Cruz said. "It is time, quite frankly, to make D.C. listen."

As he went on, he remarked that many people started to use Twitter with the hashtag "makeDClisten."

At 8 p.m. Tuesday, Cruz broke from his criticism of ObamaCare and read Green Eggs and Ham to his two young daughters, who were getting ready for bed.

"I wanted to take an opportunity that I don’t usually have when I’m in D.C., to read them a couple of bedtime stories,” Cruz said.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) were the only Democrats to visit the floor to challenge Cruz's challenge of ObamaCare. Durbin implied that Cruz favors a government shutdown, by tying a spending bill to defunding ObamaCare.

But Cruz said it would be the fault of Democrats if the government shuts down.

"I do not believe we should shut down the federal government," Cruz said. "The only reason we might shut down the federal government is if President Obama and Majority Leader Reid decide they want to force a government shutdown."

Several GOP senators came to the floor to give Cruz a break from talking, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who got help from Cruz and other during his more than 12-hour filibuster back in March.

Paul jokingly advised Cruz to wear comfortable shoes, and told him not to eat in front of the camera — Paul notoriously scarfed down chocolate and other snacks during his filibuster.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who also pressed for the defunding language, joined Cruz for most of the evening and thanked the House for passing the language.

"The House of Representatives showed that ... at least that side of D.C., that side of the Capitol, was listening, and I applaud the Speaker of the House and the other leaders in the House of Representatives who did that," Lee said. "That suggests to me that they were listening on that side of the House."

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) noted the "special deal" that members of Congress and their staff will get to sign up to the health insurance exchanges under ObamaCare. Vitter and Enzi were referring to a rule that said members and staff can still receive government subsidies for their health insurance even when they are forced to use the new exchanges.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) stopped by in the early evening to argue that ObamaCare is destroying the American dream.

"There can't be an America without the American Dream ... and that is what's being undermined by ObamaCare," Rubio said. "If your dream is to open your own business and grow it, then ObamaCare is hurting you."

Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he'd support Cruz's effort and vote against advancing the spending resolution until changes to the healthcare law are guaranteed.

"I'm going to oppose any advancing of the final bill that doesn’t provide some change in this ObamaCare legislation," Sessions said. "We just have to use the opportunities that we have."

Cruz was rejoined by many of his GOP colleagues Wednesday morning, after those colleagues had a chance to eat and sleep. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) reached the floor again just before 8 a.m. to ask how Cruz was holding up, and to offer to buy him breakfast when it's all over.