Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that despite an expected talk-a-thon by Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies in the fight to defund Obamacare, that does not mean the GOP is succeeding in filibustering.
Usually when Mr. Reid has to file "cloture," a Senate parliamentary procedure to force an end to a debate, he is eager to accuse the GOP of filibustering. But this week he is trying to throw cold water on Mr. Cruz's public relations strategy, which has helped boost the Texas Republican's prominence.
"I want to disabuse everyone. There will be no filibuster today," Mr. Reid said as he opened the Senate floor action Tuesday.
Under the rules governing cloture, the Senate is now on autopilot. Mr. Cruz can talk up until noon Wednesday, but at that point the Senate automatically adjourns and comes back into session — and the key cloture vote happens an hour later.
The only thing that could change that is if all senators agree to shorten the time, which would speed up the vote.
"We are going to vote tomorrow. Under the rules, no one can stop that," the Democratic floor leader said.
Mr. Cruz is trying to use parliamentary tactics to frustrate Mr. Reid and to force an end to funding for the Affordable Care Act. The House passed a stopgap spending bill that does defund the health care law, but Mr. Reid holds the upper hand in the Senate and can use the rules to make sure the Obamacare provisions are stripped out before the Senate has to pass the bill.
Earlier this year Sen. Rand Paul staged a real filibuster, holding the Senate floor in order to delay a vote on one of President Obama's nominees and drawing attention to the administration's drone policy.
But he was able to do that because no schedule had been locked in beforehand.
This week, though, Mr. Reid has successfully bound the Senate to a schedule that, barring a parliamentary botch by the Nevada Democrat or his caucus, will ensure they vote before Sunday night on a bill that funds the government, including Obamacare.
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