In fact, early in American history, senators did little to use endless debate to block legislation they disliked.
It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that more and more senators began talking about the legislation to the death that they opposed.
But there was absolutely no mechanism for coping with the procrastination of the first century and quarter of the US Senate.
It wasn’t until 1917 that frustrated President Woodrow Wilson persuaded the Senate to adopt a rule – known as Rule 22 – that would allow senators to vote to break the blockage. It was, and still is, known as “clot recall.” (Fun fact: The first time the new rule was used was an attempt to overcome the disruption of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.)
Initially, the vote threshold to break the blockage was an overwhelming majority – 67 votes. But it was always difficult to get to that and got more difficult as the years went by, so in 1975 it was changed to 60 votes, which is where it is today.
Jim Crow’s remains.
Southern senators have taken advantage of the disruption for years to block civil rights legislation – including bills against extrajudicial executions.
Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina spoke out for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957 in the longest continuous downtime in Senate history, according to Senate.gov.
It wasn’t until 1964 that the Senators finally beat the stall to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act when former Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson was president.
In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was tired of the Republican party blocking President Barack Obama’s legal nominees, and he led such a major change that presidential nominations need only a simple majority to confirm, helping to get more Obama judges. the seat. When Republicans took control of the Senate, they used the same 51-vote threshold to confirm a record number of conservative judges appointed by then-President Donald Trump.
What does “Talking Filibuster” mean?
In recent years, senators have used this delay so much that the expectation is that most legislation will need 60 votes to pass, rather than a simple majority of 51 out of 100 senators.
It has now become so baked that Senate majority leaders tend to schedule so-called clot votes to overcome the threshold of 60 instantly.
The idea is to make it even more painful to unleash a blockage against a bill – to get more happenings like when Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas spoke for hours opposing Obamaker, partly with a reading of “Green Eggs and Ham,” or when Rand Paul, Republican from State Kentucky, for 13 hours against the use of military drones.
But experts like former Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin say “modern disruption” probably won’t do much to stop the blockage.
The reason: Suppose Republicans block HR1, the voting rights legislation passed by the House. If enough Republican senators were willing to speak, they could rotate and go through the night for days and days.
In addition, rather than acting as a deterrent, procrastinating senators may find it politically beneficial to demonstrate their opposition to a bill. So, the process will change, but the result – legislation floundering in the Senate with no end in sight – may not be.