Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Utah’s Lee backs up Cruz in 21-hour marathon speech

First Published Sep 25 2013 04:28 pm • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 11:34 pm

Washington • Just after 3 a.m. Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee had some burning questions for the man who by then had been holding the Senate floor for some 12 hours.

How long was the 100-year war? Where do Chinese gooseberries come from? Where are Panama hats made? What color is an airplane’s black box?

At a glance

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

These weren’t the result of sleep deprivation, but queries aimed at driving home the point that things aren’t always what they seem. (A black box, for example, is actually orange.) The kicker? That the Affordable Care Act is anything, the senator argued, but affordable.

Armed only with a stack of papers, a dark suit, yellow tie and a microphone, Lee came to Sen. Ted Cruz’s aid through the night as the Texas Republican held the mostly deserted Senate floor for more than 21 hours in a last-ditch stand against the health care law better known as Obamacare.

Having already lost the battle to halt a vote on funding the government past Monday’s midnight deadline, Cruz’s prolonged lecture was purely symbolic, but Lee, among other senators, was there to help prop up his tea-party buddy as the hours crawled by.

"We want to stand with the American people," Lee said at 6:48 p.m. Eastern time.

"I’ve come with some updates from the outside world," Lee told a relieved Cruz at 10:20 p.m.

At 2:14 a.m., Lee talked about listening to a popular song with his sons and balking at the "not wholesome" lyrics. Just after 3 a.m., Lee started the planned question-and-answer period with Cruz, who by then had been giving a marathon speech with brief interruptions by his tag team of friends long enough to grab a snack or a swig.

For the record, Chinese gooseberries come from New Zealand. Ecuador makes Panama hats and the 100-year war actually ground on for 116 years.

It seemed about that long by the time Cruz wrapped up his pseudo-filibuster that was doomed to end at noon anyway. His tie loose, his voice raspier and his arms firmly lodged on the desk that held him up, Cruz hadn’t broken the record for the longest Senate talk — but he was close. The distinction still belongs to former South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond for his 24-hour, 18-minute performance in 1957.

story continues below
story continues below

At the onset and the close of his anti-Obamacare diatribe, Cruz had noted that Utah’s Lee was the one who had started the fight to use a possible government shutdown as leverage to force Democrats to cut funding for their signature health law.

"Senator Lee has shown visionary leadership in standing and taking the mantle of leading the effort to defund Obamacare and to challenge this train wreck of a law, and Senator Lee has been repaid at times with vilification from official Washington," Cruz said. "In my judgment, there is no senator in this body, Republican or Democrat, who is more principled, who is more dedicated, who is more fearless and willing to fight for the principles that make this nation great than is Senator Mike Lee."

While Cruz got most of the spotlight, Lee was rewarded with the Texan’s unmitigated praise and a small, but national, C-SPAN audience to talk about the more esoteric powers of Congress, including its ability to issue a letter of marque (essentially a get-out-of-jail card) for pirates, while waxing on about how he wanted to be an authorized bandit on the high seas.

And best of all for the Utah Republican who lives to quote the Constitution, he got to talk as long as he wanted about James Madison and Federalist 62.


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.