A number of conservative news outlets are fuming about their perceived difference between the mainstream media’s coverage of the filibusters of Wendy Davis and Ted Cruz.
As you may recall, Davis, a state senator from Texas, took to the floor of the Texas legislature in June of this year to speak out against Senate Bill 5, a bill designed to severely restrict access to reproductive care. Cruz, as United States senator,spoke out against a continuing resolution that had come across from the House of Representatives, that he eventually voted in favor of. Some conservatives seemed to believe that Davis received significantly more coverage than Cruz, though in actuality, both politicians’ spotlight moments were covered roughly the same amount.
Still, though, these two events aren’t the same, and shouldn’t necessarily be compared to one another. Here’s a quick breakdown on the top 4 reasons Wendy Davis’ filibuster wasn’t the same as Ted Cruz’.
1. What Ted Cruz did wasn’t actually filibuster
A filibuster is a parliamentary procedure where debate is extended, offering one or more members to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal. How was Cruz’ 21 hour speech not a filibuster? Well, most importantly, he didn’t actually delay any legislation. Senator Cruz and Majority Leader Harry Reid came to an agreement prior to the start of his ‘filibuster,’ agreeing that Cruz could speak up until 1pm on 9/25, the time at which the continuing resolution Cruz opposed would be voted on. Whether Cruz spoke for 21 hours straight or got a good night’s sleep, that vote was still going to happen at 1pm on 9/25. His speech didn’t delay anything. For good measure, after this 21 hour speech, Cruz voted for the resolution he just spoke out against. It passed the Senate 100-0.
2. Davis prevented a piece of legislation from passing, Cruz opposed a law already in place
The goal of Davis’ filibuster was to block passage of Senate Bill 5, a bill that would limit abortion access, in the Texas State Senate. In filibustering, she prevented the bill from passing, rendering it dead. The Cruz ‘filibuster’ was an attempt to shut down the entire federal government unless funding for the Affordable Care Act was removed. Barring complete repeal of the law, it’s not actually possible to completely defund the law. Cruz knows all this, as he’s a pretty smart guy (he graduated mangna cum laude from Harvard Law School). To the outside observer, it may seem that this was nothing but a chance for Cruz to boost his own profile prior to the 2016 presidential race.
3. The rules of the US Senate are vastly different from the rules of the Texas State Senate
It should be noted that the rules of the United States Senate and the Texas State Senate are entirely different. For instance, in the US Senate, there’s virtually no limit to what topic a senator needs to speak on in order to filibuster. Senators can also take brief breaks while their colleagues take over, giving them a rest. During Cruz’ ‘filibuster,’ During Cruz’ speech, Senators Inhofe, Paul, Rubio, and Lee took turns speaking, giving Sen. Cruz a much-needed rest.
Davis, on the other hand, was restricted as to what she could and could not speak about. The rules of the Texas State Senate require that all speech much be germane to the topic at hand. For Davis, this meant that she needed to remain on the topic of Senate Bill 5. Additionally, unlike Cruz, Davis was not allowed to drink water, nor was she allowed to lean on her podium.
4. Look at the content of the speeches
Cruz read passages from Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs & Ham” and made references to old episodes of “Saturday Night Live”. He chatted about hats, birds and gooseberries with Senator Lee. He compared the federal government to the evil Galactic Empire from “Star Wars”. These are just a few examples of how all over the board he was in his speech.
Wendy Davis spoke, as she was bound by the rules, exclusively on the topic of Senate Bill 5. Now, speaking for 11 or 21 hours is an intense challenge in itself, but speaking on topic for that amount of time? That’s even more amazing.