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But What Is A Filibuster?

Maybe you read this post, and maybe you still don't quite get it...

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On July 17th, Tanner Ringerud and Gavon Laessig posted an article titled Senate Filibustering As Explained By "Mean Girls." This was genius.

This might be because you lack some of the basic information you need to fully understand the "nuclear option." This post is meant to further your awareness on the topic of senate filibustering and help clear any confusion.

So what is a filibuster?

A filibuster is a procedure where a debate is extended to either delay or prevent a vote on a given proposal. During filibusters, senators take advantage of the Senate's rules allowing indefinite debate. Basically, if a senator doesn't want a certain proposal to pass, he or she can just keep talking forever, about any topic, so that the vote never even happens.

What is a cloture?


Cloture: The only procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby overcome a filibuster. Under the cloture rule (Rule XXII), the Senate may limit consideration of a pending matter to 30 additional hours, but only by vote of three-fifths of the full Senate, normally 60 votes.


Strom Thurmond holds the record for the longest filibuster, speaking for 24 hours straight in an effort to block the Civil Rights Act in 1957. He eventually ran out of things to talk about and actually started reading from a telephone book!

So what good is a filibuster?


The Senate minority's ability to have any influence relies on its right to an unlimited debate. Political scientist Gregory Koger, an expert on the filibuster, explains that "the majority and minority party haggle over the process for debating major legislation to ensure that members of both parties are able to deliberate fully. Without the minority party's power to filibuster, it is likely that the majority party in the Senate would be no more generous than its counterpart in the House."

And that's why the threat of a "nuclear option" is...well...a threat.

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