History[change | change source]
The term "filibuster" comes from the French word "flibustier," meaning "pillaging pirate." In terms of parliamentary procedure, the word was not used until the 19th century However, the use of long speeches as a delaying tactic is part of the history of the Roman Senate. For example, Cato the Younger is known for using filibuster tactics to block Julius Caesar's rise to power.
Timeline[change | change source]
- 1841: The first ongoing filibuster in the United States Senate starts on February 18 and ends on March 11
- 1853: The term "filibuster" is first recorded in the Congressional Record
- 1874: Joseph Gillis Biggar delay the passage of Irish coercion acts by making long speeches in the British House of Commons to
- 1880: The long speeches of Charles Stewart Parnell in the UK House of Commons blocked debate on anything else; and the tactic forced Parliament to take the issue of Irish self-government
- 1917: The US Senate adopts the cloture rule in order to limit filibusters
- 1919: A filibuster in the US Senate held up a vote on the Treaty of Versailles
- 1957: US Senator Strom Thurmond holds record for the longest filibuster. His 24-hour, 18-minute speech on August 28-29 was against a civil rights bill.
- 1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the US Senate
- 1983: British Member of Parliament John Golding talked for over 11 hours to delay the British Telecommunications Bill
- 2011: A filibuster about Canada Post by the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the House of Commons of Canada started on June 23 and ended on June 25, 2011.
- 2013: Chuck Hagel, the president's defense secretary nominee was filibustered after a cloture motion (the vote that ends the filibuster) failed 58-40.
United States[change | change source]
In the United States, current rules in the Senate require all Senators to be allowed to deliver a speech for as long as they want. Voting cannot begin until all Senators finish giving their speeches. A filibuster allows a senator to block a bill by speaking on behalf of the bill for too long on purpose so it would not be brought to a vote. To pass a bill, the Senate only needs at least 50 votes (out of 100) in support of the bill. To end a filibuster will require cloture which requires 60 votes (out of 100) in support. A cloture would allow the bill to be voted on because it forces all debates to end.
To get around the filibuster, the Senate may choose to include a provision of the bill through a reconciliation bill. A reconciliation bill bans filibusters and only requires 50 votes (out of 100) for it to pass. In 2013, the Senate Democrats changed the rules to ban filibusters for confirming the President's nominee for courts other than the Supreme Court. In 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added Supreme Court nominations to the ban on filibusters in order to confirm Neil Gorsuch (appointed by Donald Trump) to the Supreme Court with only 50 votes.
Supporters of the filibuster argue it protects the minority from having no say in the bill. However, critics claim it gives the minority too much power by blocking any legislation.
In 2021, the Democratic Party introduced legislation that would eliminate the filibuster that could be passed with only a majority vote. However, Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema said they are opposed to modifying the filibuster.
References[change | change source]
- "MPs renew info exemption effort," BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), 15 May 2007; retrieved 2013-1-15.
- Reaves, Jessica. [https://web.archive.org/web/20130116233123/http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,423312,00.html Archived 2013-01-16 at the Wayback Machine "The Filibuster Formula," Time (US). February 25, 2003; retrieved 2013-1-15.
- Safire, William. (2008). Safire's New Political Dictionary, p. 244.
- Goldsworthy, Adrian. (2006). Caesar: Life of a Colossus, pp. 159-160.
- "Filibustering," BBC, 1 September 2008; retrieved 2013-1-15.
- Ivison, John. "Time stands still in the House of Commons as NDP filibuster drags on," National Post, June 24, 2011; "Canada Post back-to-work bill passes key vote," CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), June 25, 2011; retrieved 2013-1-15.
- "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress - 1st Session". www.senate.gov.