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Reporting from Washington — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has ended a marathon filibuster of the proposed tax compromise, ceding control of the Senate floor after more than 8 1/2 hours.
“It has been a very long day,” he said as he concluded his remarks, including a five-hour period in which he spoke without interruption. “I do believe that if the American people stand up … I think we can defeat this proposal. I think we can come up with a better proposal which better reflects the needs of the middle class.”
Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats, took to the floor at 10:25 a.m. EST Friday to “take a strong stand” against the legislation, which was formally introduced Thursday night. When he yielded the floor at 7 pm, a period in which he spoke for all but approximately 80 minutes, deferring to supportive colleagues
“I’m not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle,” he said at the start of his effort. “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.”
The filibuster — or simply the threat of one — has stymied countless legislation in the 111th Congress. Even with a heavy majority, Democrats have often been unable to secure 60 votes needed to invoke cloture. But a filibuster in its traditional sense — a marathon speech by a senator or senators — hasn’t been seen in nearly two decades.
According to the Associated Press, the last true filibuster was mounted in 1992, when then- Sen. Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.) spoke for hours to oppose a change in a tax bill that would have hurt a home-state typewriter company.
D’Amato spoke for 15 hours and 14 minutes, padding his remarks by at one point singing “South of the Border” to fill time.
“They won’t need to change any plaques in the Strom Thurmond Museum,” said spokesman Mike Riggs, referring to the former South Carolina senator who holds the record for longest filibuster, at over 24 hours.
As an attention-grabber, the effort has been successful. A live stream of the speech on Sanders’ Senate website drew 12,000 views as of Friday afternoon, crashing the page at one point. His office has been flooded by phone calls as well. “Bernie Sanders” was a trending topic nationally on Twitter as well.
The White House, anxious that it was losing the message war, deployed President Obama and former President Clinton to the briefing room to tout the compromise.