'Green Eggs and Ham' gets a reading
On Tuesday night, he read the Dr. Seuss children's classic "Green Eggs and Ham" to his daughters.
As he reached 18 hours of holding the Senate floor on Wednesday morning, Cruz compared his anti-Obamacare effort to the "Star Wars" films.
Referring to having heard someone use the phrase "rebellion against oppression," Cruz said those words "conjured up to me the rebel alliance fighting against the empire. The empire being the Washington, D.C., establishment."
"And indeed immediately on hearing that phrase I wondered if at some point we would see a tall gentleman in a mechanical breathing apparatus come forward and say in a deep voice, `Mike Lee, I am your father.' "
Cruz said his effort "is a fight to restore freedom to the people. This is a fight to get the Washington establishment, the empire, to listen to the people. And just like in the 'Star Wars' movies the empire will strike back. But at the end of the day I think the rebel alliance, I think the people will prevail."
Later, he called for Senate Republicans to show the same courage as their party colleagues in the House in making a stand to defund Obamacare.
He alluded to the risks faced by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, noting they were mostly wealthy landowners who faced hanging for treason for their actions.
At 9 a.m. Wednesday, Cruz was alone on the floor, except for the presiding officer, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin.
Durbin and Cruz engaged in some hostile exchanges, with the Illinois Democrat accusing Cruz of trying to deny health care coverage for tens of millions of currently uninsured Americans while enjoying the benefits of a federal health care program.
Cruz responded that Obamacare was flawed and hurting the country, and the focus should be on a better solution instead of continuing on with a failed system.
Two sides battle it out on social media
Earlier, Cruz sought to define his battle as purely about principle, saying: "This fight is not about any member of this body. This fight is not about personalities."
"Look, most Americans could not give a flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington," he said. "Who cares? Almost all of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts! Who cares?"
Supporters cheered him on through social media, and #StandWithCruz became one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter.
But supporters of the health care law made themselves heard as well. On Wednesday morning, the two sides were battling it out in the top trending topic in the United States: "Obamacare."
Key Republicans critical of Cruz strategy
Cruz also has been the target of criticism by some top Republicans.
GOP infighting over how best to prevent a government shutdown while defunding Obamacare escalated Tuesday as McConnell publicly dismissed Cruz's more confrontational strategy.
Cruz's GOP critics believe his strategy is politically suicidal, arguing there is no way to stop Obamacare as long as Democrats maintain control of the Senate and Obama is in the White House.
They believe that trying to do so by forcing a shutdown -- or preventing an increase in the debt ceiling next month -- will backfire by harming the economy and damaging the Republican brand.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the debt ceiling -- which is the amount the federal government can borrow to pay its bills -- must be raised by October 17 to prevent a possible default.
House Republicans say they will propose a package of measures that includes a one-year delay in full implementation of Obamacare to a proposal to extend the debt limit for a year. House Republican leaders met Wednesday evening to discuss the policy priorities they plan to attach.
But there are signs leadership is running into resistance from conservatives, some of whom do not want additional borrowing. Others want to add new items while others still question the strategy of taking up the debt bill in the middle of fight over spending and a possible government shutdown.
The White House rejects negotiations on the debt issue, saying something as fundamental as ensuring the good credit of the United States must be above politics.