Democratic Senator Tom Harkin this afternoon ridiculed Republican Ted Cruz, the Texas Senator who staged an all-nighter in the Senate in verbal protest of “ObamaCare,” then voted to allow debate of an alternative that does not accomplish that goal.

“That same senator who kept people here all night, kept the lights lit,  cost the taxpayers I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars at least, imagine my surprise when he voted for the very bill he was talking against. A 100-0 vote today,” Harkin said during a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon. “Some things are really hard to grasp around this place.”

Harkin, as chairman of the Senate Health Committee, is one of the senators who helped craft the Affordable Care Act. Harkin said the tactics Republicans like Cruz are using are “inexplicable.”

“Republicans have played the Washington stage, politically for all it’s worth,” Harkin said. “We saw an example of that last night when one of our colleagues on the other side kept the Senate in all night long…You’ll excuse me if I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it.”

Harkin said it’s time to “stop the silly games” and for Republicans to propose improvements rather than wholescale repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“We don’t need to shut the government down,” Harkin said. “…Let’s act responsibly and then let’s get down to the hard work of working together.”

According to Harkin, it’s up to congress to “fix things” in the Affordable Care Act “with goodwill and in a spirit of compromise.”

“The choice is to go forward, to work together to make whatever improvements need to be made, to come together as a united American people and to create a reformed health care system that works not just for the healthy and wealthy, but for all Americans,” Harkin said. “That’s what this battle’s about.”

AUDIO of last 14 minutes of Harkin’s speech on Senate floor.

Senators face a series of procedural votes that could stretch into Sunday, but the final bill from Senate Democrats will outline spending for federal government operations, including implementation of the Affordable Care Act. That means Republicans who control the House debate agenda would have just hours to decide whether to accept that bill or shut the government down on Tuesday, October 1. That’s the same day the government-managed insurance exchanges are scheduled to open for business.

Senator Cruz — during his more than 21-hour speech-a-thon — said most Americans don’t give a “flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington” and he is urging his fellow Republicans to stand firm against funding for “ObamaCare.”