UPDATE: After nearly 10 hours, Senator Bernie Sanders has ended his one-man filibuster of President Obama's tax compromise. Among the highlights of his non-stop speech were rants about the "insanity" of cutting taxes for America's top earners; ramblings about the weather; outspoken opposition to the Comcast-NBC merger; and a plug for tourism with praise of his native Vermont's snow skiing venues.
At this point, there's no word whether the "filibernie" may resume next week. But his outspoken opposition to the president's compromise on taxes thrilled many liberal Americans as Twitter lit up with praise for the Vermont Senator. At least one website popped up Friday afternoon to track Sanders' remarks and support his campaign: IsBernieSandersStillTalking.com.
USA Today explains that actual filibusters are rare these days, and lets us know that Sanders is far from Strom Thurmand's 24-hour marathon in 1957:
An actual filibuster -- where a lawmaker talks on and on -- is kind of a rare thing in Congress these days. Senate Historian Donald Ritchie said a real filibuster is when a senator gets up in the chamber and talks forever to delay a vote on an issue.
But these days people use the word "filibuster" whenever an issue hits a snag -- such as with the repeal of the policy on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military -- even though a senator isn't talking non-stop.
(By the way, Ritchie noted that the Senate was in what is called "morning hour," and not in the period known as "legislative business." That means technically what Sanders did is not a filibuster. Morning hour is when senators get floor time to speak about anything, for as long as they want.)
The Senate has pulled all-nighters in the past, such as in 2007 over Iraq war policy.
The record for the longest speech in the Senate was set by Strom Thurmond in 1957: 24 hours, 18 minutes talking in opposition to a civil rights bill.
Hour number 8:
Sanders's filibuster is now in it's seventh hour. "He" is posting consistent updates to his twitter account. Here's the latest:
NRO says hour six included "shout outs" to Arianna Huffington's book and Slate.com.
Also on NRO, Jonah Goldberg offers some thoughts on Sanders and his statement earlier in the speech that his job is to protect the middle class:
I was listening to Bernie Sanders’s filibuster in the car a few minutes ago. He made an interesting statement. I’m paraphrasing, but he said the job of Congress — representatives and senators — is to fight for the interests of the middle class and their kids, or something very close to that.
It’s an interesting statement from an avowed socialist (I’m assuming the No Labels speech police will let me take Sanders’s own word for what he is). The idea that the middle class is the one deserving of protection runs counter to a lot of socialist theory, I’m pretty sure.
But that doesn’t interest me much. What does interest me is the suggestion that our legislators are supposed to be looking out for the middle class to the exclusion of other concerns. I thought, borrowing from Burke, our representatives owed us their judgment. I can think of any number of circumstances when the right thing to do would impact the middle class negatively. It’s really not hard to do. For instance, taking all the money from the rich and giving it to the middle class would “help” the middle class (at least by socialist reckoning), but such an act would — I hope — be unconstitutional or at least wrong in the eyes of Congress.
Goldberg goes on to point out that Sanders's constitutional oath doesn't mention anything about defending one class over another.
UPDATE from USA Today:
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is about to begin his sixth hour on the Senate floor criticizing President Bush's tax cut deal with Republicans.
Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, had vowed to do anything he could to block the deal, including a filibuster. We're checking with his office to see how long he plans to talk.
The Senate vote is scheduled for Monday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
is about to reach reached the five hour mark in an extensive filibuster attempt of Obama's tax compromise that began at about 10:30 am ET this morning.
You can watch the filibuster live here:
Business Insider has been watching it for all five hours:
Update: It's in its 5th hour, and Senator Sanders is talking again, after having handed the baton to Mary Landrieu.
Just one thought: This is a disaster for Obama.
It's the first time we can recall that something happening on the liberal side is getting people excited -- #filibernie is a hot topic on Twitter right now -- and Obama isn't part of it. In fact, he's against it.
HuffPo reports that the filibuster became so popular this afternoon it shut down the Senate video servers:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is leading a filibuster against Obama's tax proposal on the Senate floor Friday, after earlier promising "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."
The filibuster, which began at 10:25 AM, became so popular that it temporarily shut down the Senate video server.
Sanders explained the move in a blog post:
I think we can do better, and I am here today to take a strong stand against this bill, and I intend to tell my colleagues and the nation exactly why I am in opposition to this bill. You can call what I am doing today whatever you want -- you can call it a filibuster, you can call it a very long speech. I'm 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.