Examining the Filibuster: Hearings before the Committee on Rules and Administration, United States Senate

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 24, 2010

Government Book Talk: “Examining the Filibuster: Hearings before the Committee on Rules and Administration, United States Senate [666 pages, PDF]: “Apparently the filibuster was not erected by the founding fathers as a way to safeguard the rights of the minority and guarantee careful deliberation of legislation. Originally, both Houses of Congress included a “previous question motion” in their rule books, which still allows a House majority to cut off debate. In 1805, however, neither body used the motion in this way and, at the urging of Vice President Aaron Burr in his capacity as President of the Senate, the Senate eliminated the previous question motion from its rule book – apparently without any real discussion. Even so, it was not until 1837 that the first real filibuster occurred. Another plum: the late Senator Robert C. Byrd, even though he represented the majority in the Senate for much of his career, was a passionate defender of the filibuster, proving that such issues are not decided simply on the basis of party, or majority versus minority.”

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