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Sen. Tom Harkin wasn't impressed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's 21-hour “little tirade” that kept the Senate open overnight in an effort to delay action on a continuing resolution to avoid a federal government shutdown.
Cruz spoke for 21 hours and 19 minutes from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning, holding forth, for the most part, on the dangers of the Affordable Care Act. Then he joined 99 other senators in voting to move forward with a vote on the continuing resolution that strips the House-passed measure to de-fund ObamaCare.
“He spends all this time talking against it … he used that time to excoriate ObamaCare … why we ought to de-fund it … and then turns around and voted for it,” Harkin told reporters this morning. “You have to ask, who looks foolish here. People are just laughing about it.”
It's the second time this year a senator has taken to the floor at length to delay action. Earlier, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul filibustered for 13 hours to highlight his concerns with the Obama administration's policies on the use of drones for military purposes. Harkin, however, doesn't see it as an effective strategy.
“Some people have done that in the past, but generally speaking, they don't have an effect at all,” the Iowa Democrat said. “You get a little publicity for it, I guess.”
Harkin, a senator since 1985, said it's unlikely he would be willing to speak for 21 hours – even for the publicity.
“Probably not,” he said after a lengthy criticism of Cruz and the “the most extreme Tea Party wing” and its “ideology-driven obstructionism.” “Those things don't have any effect at all.”
If anything, Harkin said, Cruz is wearing out his welcome with his fellow Republicans. One, he said, joked to him the GOP would trade Cruz to the Democrats for two top draft choices.
“I think they are getting a little tired of him, too,” Harkin said.
The Senate may vote as early as today to pass a continuing resolution and send the measure back to the House in an effort to avoid a federal government shutdown Tuesday.