Under Rule XIX of the Senate, senators who have been recognized to speak may do so for as long as they wish, and cannot be forced to cede the floor or even interrupted without their consent, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Sanders has twice deferred to his colleagues — for 45 minutes to Sherrod Brown (D- Ohio), and to Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for over a half hour.
"I don't know how I'm going to vote, but I'm not voting quietly," Landrieu said.
Even when he defers to a colleague, Sanders must remain standing on the floor. He also cannot eat — he hasn't since arriving at the Capitol at 9 a.m. — but is permitted to take sips of water.
In my view, the tax compromise needs to pass to alleviate immediate suffering from the recession. By dropping unemployment by 1 - 2 % points, millions of Americans will be prevented from descending into poverty, losing their homes, and creating a downward spiral for others on the brink. The tax break for the rich is unnecessary, fiscally irresponsible, and useless at stimulating the economy.
But this courageous filibuster is helpful to start the discussion that must be had in 2012 - it will be a repeat of the current debate, but Sander's filibuster has taken on a viral quality, much like Ron Paul's anti-war speeches in 2008. So carry on, good Senator. Thanks for fighting the good fight, and congratulations on being a star attraction of the Senate floor! Perhaps some more of this public drama from the good guys will help break through the bias and talking points espoused by the plutocracy.