Five politically important recent filibusters

Sen. Murphy: We have to draw to attention to 'epidemic'
Sen. Murphy: We have to draw to attention to 'epidemic'

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  • Sen. Chris Murphy completed a 15-hour filibuster early Thursday morning to force action on gun control measures
  • Senate Republican leaders later announced that votes on gun measures were set for Monday

Washington (CNN)Sen. Chris Murphy was in the national spotlight Thursday after completing a 15-hour filibuster designed to force action on gun measures in response to the most recent (and deadliest in U.S. history) mass shooting.

Working off a few hours of sleep Thursday morning -- he wrapped up his marathon debate a little before 2:15 a.m. ET -- the Connecticut Democrat was in demand across the morning talk shows.
    "There was nothing that was going to happen in the United States Senate, no debate, in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history, until this filibuster began. That was deeply offensive to many of us," Murphy said Thursday on CNN's "New Day."
    A little more than 12 hours after Murphy had finished his filibuster, Senate Republican leaders announced that votes on gun measures were set for Monday.
    Here are five recent long talks that rocketed (mostly) young senators to national prominence.

    Chris Murphy (15 hours)

    Murphy might not be running for president anytime soon but he managed to steal the spotlight with a lengthy, emotional debate that began at 11 a.m. Wednesday. By the end of it, he declared victory, saying he had secured promises of votes on Democratic and Republican gun measures.
    The gun debate has long been central to Murphy's own ascent. Murphy won a hard-fought contest for the seat vacated by former Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2012 after having represented the Connecticut district in the House that includes Newtown.
    And, to cap his speech, Murphy presented a photo of Dylan Hockley, a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the Sandy Hook shootings. "What can you do to make Orlando or Sandy Hook never, ever, ever happen again?" Murphy asked.

    Ted Cruz (21 hours)

    When Ted Cruz entered the Senate in 2013, the Texas senator was one of a handful of successful tea partiers who shocked the Republican establishment into action after upending then-Senate favorite David Dewhurst in the 2012 Texas primary.
    But in less than a year, Cruz laid the groundwork for an insurgent White House run in part by reading "Green Eggs and Ham" from the Senate floor to try and block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It was not a filibuster -- the Senate had ended debate earlier, meaning Cruz was not actually blocking anything -- but Cruz still talked for a whopping 21 hours.
    By the end of it, Cruz was a tea party favorite for the Republican nomination, still three years away. Cruz supporters across the nation still cite his lengthy debate against Obamacare as one of the defining moments for the young senator.

    Rand Paul (13 hours)

    A half year before Cruz cemented his standing in the national conservative movement by reading Dr. Seuss from the Senate floor, Paul further elevated his family's standing among libertarian-leaning Republicans with his own 13-hour-long filibuster to block confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan.
    Paul, the son of libertarian favorite Ron Paul, launched his filibuster amid a massive snowstorm in the nation's capital in March 2013 and locked in the significance with the hashtag "#filiblizzard."
    The standoff might not have garnered quite as strong a following among conservatives as Cruz would accomplish six months later, but Paul laid the tactical groundwork for Cruz. And he also burnished his credentials as a leading crusader for civil liberties when weighed against domestic surveillance and national security.

    Bernie Sanders (8 hours)

    Just one month after President Barack Obama took, by his words, a "shellacking" in the tea party wave of 2010, the President finalized a massive package of tax cuts with Republicans -- solidifying measures he said were needed for consumers still reeling amid the recession. And not long after Senate negotiators agreed to vote on the compromise plan, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to blast away at the measure.
    It was technically a filibuster but did not actually block anything because Sanders launched his talk-a-thon on a Friday and ended it well before the vote scheduled for that Monday. But it won him plaudits among the liberal base in large part because he talked it out as opposed to just stalling. And, not surprisingly, Sanders hit on all the economic populist notes in that 2010 filibuster that would line his 2016 primary insurgency against Hillary Clinton.

    Harry Reid (9 hours)

    In the midst of President George W. Bush's first term, then-Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid took to the Senate floor for nine hours to protest Republican judicial nominees in 2003. As he held the Senate floor, Reid read from his own book about his Nevada hometown, entitled, "Searchlight: The Camp that Didn't Fail."
    Reid was already a stalwart Democratic leader in the Senate by that point and did not appear headed for any presidential contests, but the filibuster and other fights against Bush appointees helped cement his image as a scrapper in the trenches along his way to becoming the Senate's top Democrat.
    Ironically, six years later, Reid found himself on the other side of the filibuster debate with Republicans using the tool to block nominees sought by the newly-elected Obama.