Title

The Evolution of the Filibuster

Faculty Mentor(s)

Carl D. Cavalli

Location

LTC 163

Start Date

3-4-2013 6:00 PM

End Date

3-4-2013 7:15 PM

Description/Abstract

Congress is not very popular among American voters. The latest Gallup poll measuring Congress’ approval rating, taken on October 15-16, 2012, reveals that only 21% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing (Gallup 2012). This could be due to a multitude of factors: an approaching fiscal cliff, Congress’ inability to follow proper budget procedure, and debilitating partisanship (Fox News 2012). Whatever the reason, nationwide dissatisfaction appears to stem from some kind of legislative obstruction. There are many moments in American history that are representative of the dysfunction in Congress today.

Many Senators, acting independently or as a group, utilize their Senate right for unlimited debate in order to delay action on a bill. This tactic is commonly known as a filibuster. Filibusters frequently capture the public’s attention and dominate common discussions about the filibuster. At times, filibusters are romanticized. At other times, the filibuster is demonized. Whatever their true nature is, filibusters today are much different from years ago. It is now procedurally, even physically, easier to slow down Senate progress than ever before. Instead of being uncommon occurrences as they once were, filibusters are now regularly used tools of obstruction. In fact, the mere threat of a filibuster is often enough to doom legislation. The filibuster has indeed undergone a dramatic evolution.

Note to Conference Administrators

I am submitting for my student, Christian Miles. This was a presentation in my Fall 2012 POLS 4110 Congress class.

-Carl D. Cavalli

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Apr 3rd, 6:00 PM Apr 3rd, 7:15 PM

The Evolution of the Filibuster

LTC 163

Congress is not very popular among American voters. The latest Gallup poll measuring Congress’ approval rating, taken on October 15-16, 2012, reveals that only 21% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing (Gallup 2012). This could be due to a multitude of factors: an approaching fiscal cliff, Congress’ inability to follow proper budget procedure, and debilitating partisanship (Fox News 2012). Whatever the reason, nationwide dissatisfaction appears to stem from some kind of legislative obstruction. There are many moments in American history that are representative of the dysfunction in Congress today.

Many Senators, acting independently or as a group, utilize their Senate right for unlimited debate in order to delay action on a bill. This tactic is commonly known as a filibuster. Filibusters frequently capture the public’s attention and dominate common discussions about the filibuster. At times, filibusters are romanticized. At other times, the filibuster is demonized. Whatever their true nature is, filibusters today are much different from years ago. It is now procedurally, even physically, easier to slow down Senate progress than ever before. Instead of being uncommon occurrences as they once were, filibusters are now regularly used tools of obstruction. In fact, the mere threat of a filibuster is often enough to doom legislation. The filibuster has indeed undergone a dramatic evolution.