Home > B1, Learning > The Flaws of the Filibuster: The House is Doing it Right.

The Flaws of the Filibuster: The House is Doing it Right.

One of the things we touched on during this course, while ever so briefly, that greatly intrigued me was the use of the filibuster and its accepted use in the Senate. The filibuster is the total stoppage of forward movement on a bill by a single person stalling and talking about whatever they really want till a majority of 60 out of 100 Senators vote for it to end. This is used mainly by the majority to control the conversation. However, the part that I later discovered and what boggled my mind was the fact that the filibuster has been totally expelled from the House of Representatives. The idea that one side of the legislative branch of the government can completely and totally abolish the use of one of the most important  tools in the obstruction of a bill or topic of conversation is in my mind remarkable.

The first thing I find exceptional about the House’s complete deletion of the filibuster is the fact that the House got rid of the filibuster so early in their history.The House took steps as early as 1842 to get rid of the filibuster and to install a “Rules Committee”, this committee places limits and restrictions regarding debates that are headed to the floor. This prevents occasions like the one that took place in the Senate on August 28th-29th when Strom Thurmond spoke for 24 hours 18 minutes while stalling the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The House realized at an early age that the limiting of time spent on bills would get more done, leading to a more efficient use of power and time.

The second thing I find incredible about the House’s band of the filibuster, is the fact that the Senate has not followed suite. With as many as 139 filibusters happening in very recent years the use of filibusters is changing from what used to be a rarity to an almost normal event in the Senate. aviary (1)The Senate majority can basically control the floor by sing well placed filibusters, blocking the conversation on laws and topics they disapprove of. Yet that is getting our country no where, the majority could easily just use their power to vote through the items they favor and turn down the ones they dislike. The power in the Senate needs to be controlled and maintained in a civilized fashion that gets things done in the speediest way possible.

The Senate needs to keep their stalling in check and take the focus from avoiding bills and problems to actually doing something about it. Even if a bill is not passed that is still better than sitting there having a Senator give long filibusters that can often backfire on them as it did to Sen. William Proxmire when his opposition pointed out in the next years re-election that his filibuster of just under 24 hours had cost tens of thousands of tax dollars to keep the chambers open all night and light. The Senate needs to jump on the bandwagon with the House and either form a committee that sets pre appointed limits for discussing and debating a bill or topic, or they need to find another way of completely eradicating the filibuster and the incredible amount of time wasted dealing with them.

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