It’s not only in the House of Lords where filibustering is an issue

Labour’s filibustering in the House of Lords in many ways echoes the current tactics of Republicans in the Senate: using delaying tactics to avoid issues coming to a vote when they know they will almost certainly lose a vote when it comes.

The Wall Street Journal reports how the US version is being addressed:

Senate leaders announced on Thursday a package of rule changes that seek to reduce the stalemate and gridlock that has characterized the chamber in recent years.

But lawmakers failed to agree on a limitation to the use of the filibuster—the right of any senator to hold up any legislation the Senate is considering.

The rule changes include ending the ability of a senator to block the Senate from considering an executive branch nominee without publicly declaring they are doing so…

The total number of presidential nominees that require approval by the Senate would be reduced by roughly 30% to 1,000 from the current 1,400, according to a Senate Republican aide…

Senators would no longer be able to call for the lengthy reading of legislation on the Senate floor in a bid to drag out consideration of legislative issues they opposed. This is rarely done, but has the potential to gum up the Senate chamber for hours.

The most recent example was when Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) threatened to require the New Start nuclear-arms-reduction treaty with Russia be read out on the Senate floor late last year…

A fourth change was the basis of an informal agreement between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.).

Mr. Reid agreed to allow Republicans more votes on amendments to bills he brings to the Senate floor, while in exchange, Mr. McConnell agreed not to require as many procedural votes on matters before the Senate.

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3 Comments

  • In fact both DeMint and Bernie Sanders threatened a filibuster for completely opposing reasons. The latter ended up giving an eight-and-a-half hour speech. I think it’s a little disingenious attacking the Republicans for this as Sanders is a self-described Socialist who caucuses with the Democrats. Anyway if you ban filibusters what would poor Jefferson Smith have done!

  • toryboysnevergrowup 28th Jan '11 - 4:14pm

    On Friday 20 April 2007, a Private Member’s Bill aimed at exempting Members of Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act was ‘talked out’ by a collection of MPs, led by Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes and Norman Baker who debated for 5 hours, therefore running out of time for the parliamentary day and ‘sending the bill to the bottom of the stack.’ However, since there were no other Private Member’s Bills to debate, it was resurrected the following Monday.

    Of course LibDems filibustering in favour of a good cause as opposed to others filibustering in favour of what they believe to be a good cause is perfectly ok.

  • David Boothroyd 29th Jan '11 - 1:11am

    Dennis Skinner is often assumed to be some sort of anti-progressive but he used a highly successful filibuster in 1989 to stop Anne Widdecombe tightening the abortion laws. (He spoke for about three hours on moving the writ for the Richmond byelection)

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