* Marathon attack on Obama's signature achievement
* Cruz vows to speak as long as he can stand
* Must yield to Senate vote later in the day
By Thomas Ferraro and David Lawder
WASHINGTON, Sept 25 U.S. Republican Senator Ted
Cruz slogged into the second day of his marathon attack on
Obamacare from the Senate floor on Wednesday, showing almost no
signs of relenting after speaking for nearly 16 hours.
Standing in a nearly empty Senate chamber, Cruz made his
case to deny funding to implement President Barack Obama's
landmark overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, calling it the
country's "biggest jobs killer."
Most of the Tea Party firebrand's Republican colleagues
shunned his diatribe against the health insurance reform law,
which is delaying Senate consideration of a stop-gap funding
measure needed to avoid a government shutdown in six days.
Elected from Texas last November, Cruz at times strides the
Capitol attired in cowboy boots. But on Wednesday morning, his
feet were clad in tennis shoes. In black, they matched his suit.
"Obamacare isn't working," the Texas Republican said in
between stories about the struggles of his Cuban immigrant
father and reciting Doctor Seuss verse. A professed carnivore,
he recounted the tribulations of Christmas dinner with his
future wife's vegetarian family.
Cruz began talking at 2:41 p.m. (1841 GMT) on Tuesday. His
performance had the look of a filibuster, a procedural hurdle
used to block legislation. Except in this case, it won't.
Under Senate rules, Cruz must yield the floor by noon (1600
GMT) on Wednesday for a procedural vote that will start the
Senate towards final passage of the bill to keep government
agencies funded through Nov. 15 -- including Obamacare money.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Cruz was joined on
the Senate floor only by Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah,
who provided him short breaks from speaking. Lee and Cruz spent
the summer whipping up conservative anger against the healthcare
As dawn approached, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also a Tea
Party conservative, took the lectern, giving a Cruz a break,
which the Texas lawmaker used to stretch with knee bends on the
Republicans agree with Cruz' contention that Obamacare is a
"disaster," but most of the 46 Senate Republicans are expected
to line up instead with their party leaders in support of the
emergency spending bill.
Cruz wants to block the funding measure unless it contains
no money to implement Obamacare.
Polls show most Americans oppose the health care law despite
its goals of providing healthcare coverage to millions of
uninsured people, but even more oppose a government shutdown.
Provided Cruz can remain on his feet, he could go on for
several more hours until a procedural vote scheduled for midday
"I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until
I am no longer able to stand," he said as he started his pitch.
Cruz went on to talk about his father "flippin' pancakes,"
making "green eggs and ham," "the travesty of Obamacare," and,
proudly, about his unpopularity among many fellow Republicans.
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Practically every day, he said: "I now pick up the newspaper
to learn what a scoundrel I am."
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives last week
passed a version of the spending measure that denied funds to
Obamacare. That will be stripped from the Senate version, which
also will be shorter to
The House will have to decide whether to pass the revised
bill or find a compromise with the Senate. Unless new funding is
quickly approved, a government shutdown would begin on Tuesday.
At this point, it is unclear what the House Republican
leadership would do, generating plenty of anxiety among their
A House aide said of her boss: "He is definitely stressed."
The aide said the congressman opposes a shutdown but is
under pressure from constituents to stop Obamacare.
Republicans uniformly want to repeal Obamacare. But many see
that as a political impossibility as long as Democrats control
the Senate and hold the presidency.
Club for Growth, a conservative group influential among
Republicans, put senators on notice that it expected them to
support Cruz's bid and block Democrats from eliminating the
provision to defund Obamacare.
But Cruz's fellow Republicans were moving in the other
direction one day after the party's top two leaders in the
Senate, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, refused to lend their
support to Cruz.
Senator Orrin Hatch, the senior Republican on the Finance
Committee that oversees Obamacare, announced he would side with
McConnell rather than Cruz.
Senator Lindsey Graham said he expects a majority of the
Senate's Republicans to reject Cruz's strategy, which risks a
government shutdown that would likely be blamed on Republicans.
"I think most Republicans believe, no matter how sincere you
are about defunding Obamacare, that this approach would blow up
in our face," Graham said.
Once the battle over the government funding bill is
resolved, Congress will grapple with another fiscal crisis - a
possible and unprecedented U.S. government default unless it
agrees to raise the $16.7 trillion U.S. borrowing authority by
sometime next month or early November.
Republicans are expected to place demands on any bill to
increase the debt limit, including one to delay for a year
implementation of Obamacare, now set to begin kicking in next