Bernie Sanders Filibuster: Senator Stalls Tax Cut Deal
UPDATE: The filibuster ended just shy of 7:00 PM ET, after 8 hours and 37 minutes of speaking.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is leading a stalling session resembling 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."
As First Read notes, however, the event is not an actual filibuster under the traditional definition: "If it were a true filibuster, he would be blocking Republicans from conducting business or speaking."
The near-filibuster, which began at 10:25 AM, became so popular that it temporarily shut down the Senate video server.
Sanders kicked off the debate on the bill with a two-hour stand in opposition to the tax cut deal before handing over the lectern to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and then Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
"How can I get by on one house?" Sanders said. "I need five houses, ten houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world! Sorry, American people. We've got the money, we've got the power, we've got the lobbyists here and on Wall Street. Tough luck. That's the world, get used to it. Rich get richer. Middle class shrinks."
In discussing the cost of Obama's plan, Sanders castigated Republicans for "hypocrisy" in their concern over the debt and deficit, saying that if they voted on the package, there should be "no more lectures" from GOP senators about spending.
But Sanders said the issue wasn't only about the price of the two-year extension of the tax cuts, it was about the precedent that was being set by the deal.
"If [Obama] caves in now, who's going to believe that he's not going to do the same thing in two years," Sanders said, expressing his belief that a vote in the future would produce a further and perhaps permanent extension of the cuts.
UPDATE: A Sanders spokesman told HuffPost's Arthur Delaney that Sanders will talk "as long as he can" and that the 69-year-old senator has not taken a break since morning or had anything but water. The spokesman could not predict when the speechifying would stop. "He doesn't have an end time."
Read Sanders' blog post about the almost-filibuster here.