What is a filibuster in politics? – The Sun | The Sun

AS Democrats control the White House, there are internal battles going on in the Senate, and one big issue has been the filibuster.

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell handed over power to the new Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, there were attempts to ensure the archaic tactic stays in use.

What is a filibuster?

The filibuster is a method used in Congress to deliberately waste time during a debate by making overlong speeches or raising unnecessary procedural points.

It means a bill or a motion may be "talked out" and stopped from making progress within the allotted time.

The practice goes as far back as the Roman Senate but has been used, and some may say abused, in democracies ever since.

It is often viewed as archaic and regressive because an older version of the filibuster was used by segregationists to block civil rights legislation.

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The term is derived from the Spanish word “filibustero” meaning “pirate” and was first used in a political context by an American Congressman in 1853.

Around the world, they have various rules attached to them.

US Senators are allowed to read out recipes or even the phonebook to run the clock down.

But in Britain MPs have to stay on point and current rules prevent them from lasting more than four hours.

Will the filibuster be removed from US Senate?

Senators attempted to remove the filibuster in January 2022, however, the legislation failed when two Democratic senators,  Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, refused to join their party to change the Senate rules.

In expressing his displeasure after the failed legislation, President Joe Biden said in a statement: “I am profoundly disappointed.” He went on to say that he was not deterred and would “explore every measure and use every tool at our disposal to stand up for democracy.”

Previously, New Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Kentucky) prolonged handing over the transfer of control to the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-New York) – and he has said he wants Democrats to promise to stick to the 60-vote threshold to pass nearly every piece of legislation — essentially promising the filibuster will still be in use.

One vocal critic of the tactic, Senator Jeff Merkley, (D-Oregon) said removing it would have an impact on helping Americans.

He told NBC News: "People lived through the horror story of watching Mitch McConnell deliberately obstruct efforts to help Americans.

"And if we replay that movie and not be prepared for it and let it play out again in that fashion — big mistake."

Biden has addressed the issue of the filibuster following the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v Wade, the nearly 50-year constitutional right to abortion.

It is Biden's desire to ensure Congress codifies Roe v Wade in the law, saying at a NATO press conference: "The way to do that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that."

The filibuster currently requires 60 votes in the Senate to pass the majority of legislation, and Biden proposes removing the filibuster for the purposes of this vote.

"… If the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, it should be we provide an exception for this, requiring an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision," he said.

What is the filibuster record?

The record for the longest individual filibuster speech goes to South Carolina's J. Strom Thurmond who talked for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis spoke for more than 10 hours in 2013 to block a bill that would shutter most abortion clinics in the US state.

In November 2021, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy delayed the Democrats' social spending and climate package by making an eight-and-a-half-hour filibuster-style speech.

McCarthy utilized the "magic minute" tool available to the speaker, majority leader, and minority leader, where these members are permitted to speak for an unlimited amount of time during a floor debate.

He delayed proceedings by starting his floor speech at 8.38 pm and continuing for eight hours.

At 4.46 am, McCarthy broke the previous record for the longest House floor speech.

On November 19, The House passed Biden's $2trillion Build Back Better package despite McCarthy's attempted delay in proceedings.

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