1. a. The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.
b. An instance of the use of this delaying tactic.
In an interesting publicity stunt this last week, freshman Texas senator Ted Cruz (R.), gave a 21 hour, 19 minute speech in protest of a bill that would extend healthcare funding through December 15th. The length of this “filibuster” made it one of the longest in history, with the senator standing and speaking for the entirety of his time on the Senate floor. The tactic of filibustering has been used throughout the history of the United States as a stalling maneuver by politicians in order to prevent legislation from passing, the most recently notable one being Senator Wendy Davis’ attempt to stop Texas legislation restricting abortion from passing earlier this year.
There are some notable differences between the actions taken by Senator Davis and Senator Cruz. While they both wore sneakers and didn’t sit down for the entirety of their speeches, Davis wore a back brace and kept her speech about the bill being voted on. Cruz read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham while technically staying close to the topic of health care by trying to relate the story to Obamacare, claiming that the American people do not like green eggs and ham in an attempt to parallel the storyline with the United States’ attitudes towards the new healthcare reform. Senator Davis was actually temporarily successful in stopping the vote from happening, whereas Senator Cruz not only was “filibustering” a vote that was already scheduled, he actually voted for the bill a few days later. The terms of what is being called a “fauxbuster” were also brokered between Sen. Cruz and Senator Harry Reid the day before it took place.
Senator Cruz, although voicing the opinions of many Americans regarding healthcare reform, ultimately used this filibuster to advance his own political career and publicity. Evidence of this can be found in the scathing criticism he has received from members of his own party for his speech within the senate, Senator John McCain and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker being some of the most vocal. The fact that Senator Cruz is being criticized for his actions by notable members of his own party suggests that this was not about healthcare, which in turn suggests that this long, drawn out speech that wouldn’t change anything or delay a vote was actually about publicity. Senator Cruz has been referenced as being a potential contender for the 2016 presidential race, and would understandably want to find a way to increase the amount of media traffic his name receives in anticipation of an upcoming primary race. This “fauxbuster” was less about healthcare and delaying a vote and more about Senator Cruz.
Interestingly enough, after Sam I Am tries green eggs and ham, he finds he likes them.
Siri is a 2014 Cobber studying Political Science and History, interested in political history, the environment, and social justice. When she’s not working as a research assistant in the English Department or a student ambassador for Admissions, she loves to run, sing, and pick on her roommates. A pizza enthusiast, Star Wars nerd, avid reader, and dog lover, Siri loves people and their stories.
Photo Credit: Spencer Livdahl