WASHINGTON — Tea party conservative Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday vowed to speak in opposition to President Barack Obama's health care law until he's "no longer able to stand," even though fellow Republicans urged him to back down from his filibuster for fear of a possible government shutdown in a week.
"This grand experiment is simply not working," the Texas freshman told a largely empty chamber of the president's signature domestic issue. "It is time to make D.C. listen."
Egged on by conservative groups, the potential 2016 presidential candidate excoriated Republicans and Democrats in his criticism of the 3-year-old health care law and Congress' unwillingness to gut the law. Cruz supports the House-passed bill that would avert a government shutdown and defund Obamacare, as do many Republicans.
However, they lack the votes to stop Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from moving ahead on the measure, stripping the health care provision and sending the spending bill back to the House.
A few senators joined Cruz on the Senate floor, including, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Rubio weaved a familiar narrative about his Cuban immigrant parents and the American Dream.
"There's a growing number of people that are starting to doubt if that dream is still true," Rubio said, casting the health care law as a job and opportunity killer. "It could cost you hours out of your paycheck. It could cost you your very job."
When Rubio finished, Cruz turned to his fellow Cuban American and said: "You inspire me." He raised the 2010 U.S. Senate race in which Rubio began as a deep underdog to Charlie Crist, the establishment favorite.
"His victory in 2010 was a transformational moment in American politics. And it's also emblematic of what this fight is about right here,'' Cruz said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the GOP's No. 2, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, opposed Cruz's tactic.
The delay could push a final vote into the weekend, just days before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. That would give Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Republicans little time to come up with a new bill.
Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary contributed to this report.