Cruz vows to speak till he can't against Obamacare

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tea party conservative Sen. Ted Cruz delivered an old-style filibuster over President Barack Obama's health

care law on Tuesday, even though fellow Republicans urged him to back down for fear of a possible government shutdown in a

week.

Cruz vowed to speak until he's "no longer able to stand," and filled the time in a largely empty chamber, criticizing the

law and comparing the fight to the battle against the Nazis. He talked about the Revolutionary War, the Washington ruling

class, his Cuban-born father who worked as a cook and even recited Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham."

"I rise today in opposition to Obamacare," Cruz said at 2:41 p.m. EDT, and he cast the 3-year-old law as a job killer and

a "liberal train wreck." Seven hours later he was showing no signs of letting up.

Egged on by conservative groups, the potential 2016 presidential candidate excoriated Republicans and Democrats in his criticism

of Obama's signature domestic achievement and Congress' unwillingness to gut the law. Cruz supports the House-passed bill

that would avert a government shutdown and defund Obamacare, as do many Republicans.

However, they lack the votes to stop Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from moving ahead on the measure, stripping

the health care provision and sending the spending bill back to the House.

That didn't stop Cruz' quixotic filibuster.

During his talkathon, several Republican joined Cruz on the Senate

floor, including

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, both

of whom have been mentioned as possible presidential candidates.

Cruz yielded to them for questions but did not give up his time

controlling the debate.

"It is my hope, my fervent hope, that the voices of dissension within the Republican conference will stop firing at each other

and start firing" at the target of the health care law, said Cruz in a clear acknowledgment of GOP opposition.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,

R-Ky., and the GOP's No. 2, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, opposed Cruz'

tactic, and numerous

Republicans stood with their leadership rather than Cruz. Sen.

John Thune, the third-ranking Republican, declined to state

his position.

"I think we'd all be hard-pressed to explain

why we were opposed to a bill that we're in favor of," McConnell told

reporters.

"And invoking cloture on a bill that defunds Obamacare, it doesn't

raise taxes, and respects the Budget Control Act strikes

me as a no brainer."

McConnell told rank-and-file senators privately and reporters publicly that the GOP should not speak as long as the rules

permit on the legislation, for fear it would give them little time to try to turn the political tables on Democrats or to

avoid a possible shutdown.

Delaying tactics could push a final vote into the weekend, just days before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. That would

give Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Republicans little time to come up with a new bill.

McConnell told reporters that if the House doesn't get a Senate-passed bill until Monday, lawmakers there would be in a tough

spot.

"Delaying the opportunity for the House to send something back, it seems, plays right into the hands of Senate Democrats,"

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said. "If I'm Harry (Reid), what I'd hope would happen is you wait until the very last minute to

send something over to the House."

Asked whether there were any efforts in the GOP meeting to persuade Cruz and Lee to speed up Senate debate, Corker said, "The

discussion came up about the advantage of having House Republicans weigh in again. And there were two senators who did not

like that idea, not to name who they are."

The bill would keep the government operating until Dec. 15 and gut Obamacare.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2

Democrat, said Democrats favor a spending bill that would keep the

government running

until Nov. 15, which would force Congress to work sooner on a more

sweeping piece of legislation — known as an omnibus spending

bill — that he hopes would reverse some automatic spending cuts

known as sequestration.

Despite Cruz' effort, a test vote was set for Wednesday. Reid had filed a motion to proceed to the measure, and under Senate

rules lawmakers will vote even if Cruz speaks for hours and keeps the Senate in session overnight.

In one exchange late Tuesday, Durbin mentioned that the Princeton and Harvard-educated Cruz had gone to "some very famous

schools," and then pressed the Texan on the fact that the numbers simply don't add up for him to prevail.

Cruz said he wasn't delusional and insisted that his move was the first of many steps to unravel the law.

The Cruz filibuster echoed the effort of

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who in March waged a nearly 13-hour filibuster of

John Brennan's

nomination for CIA director over the president's authority to use

drones in the United States. The Senate eventually confirmed

Brennan.

Outside conservative groups that have been targeting Republican incumbents implored their members to call lawmakers and demand

that they stand with Cruz and his attack on Obamacare.

"This is the ultimate betrayal," the Senate Conservatives Fund said of McConnell and Cornyn — two lawmakers up for re-election

next year — in an email Tuesday morning. They pressed their members to "melt the phones," arguing that "we can't let these

turncoats force millions of Americans into this liberal train wreck."

The Club for Growth and the Madison Project also pressed lawmakers to back Cruz' effort.

The issue has roiled the Republican Party,

exacerbating the divide between tea party conservatives and GOP

incumbents who

repeatedly have voted against the health care law but now find

themselves on the defensive. Republican senators said defunding

Obamacare simply won't happen with a Democratic president and

Democrats controlling the Senate.

"It will be a cold day in Gila Bend, Ariz., before we defund Obamacare," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the party's 2008

presidential nominee. "A very cold day. In fact there may be a snowstorm. ... I know how this movie ends. I don't know all

the scenes before it ends, but I know how it ends. We don't defund Obamacare."