The rise of the filibuster: A Fix read

July 11, 2013

The debate over whether to change Senate rules to allow filibusters of executive nominees to be broken by a simple majority has consumed the world's greatest deliberative body for the entirety of the day -- and the fight looks likely to extend into next week.

We've written posts on the best Republican argument against the rule change and the best Democratic argument for the change.  Now we wanted to bring you a nonpartisan view on how we got here when it comes to the use of the filibuster in the Senate. That view comes from University of Miami political science professore Gregory Koger.

Koger, in a piece entitled "The Rise of the 60-Vote Senate", explains not only the history of filibustering but also where we stand now.  He writes:

"The modern Senate is dramatically different from the Senate of the mid-twentieth century. While senators valued compromise and cooperation, the default practice was that a simple majority was sufficient to pass
legislation. Filibusters were rare and spectacular exceptions. Now the default assumption is that a cloture-sized  majority is necessary for any action. This system empowers legislative minorities to pursue a range of interests.  Some proposals are blocked by filibusters, but others are forced onto the legislative agenda by minority hostage taking. As a result, the Senate is a less efficient chamber than the U.S. House, but it is also likely to discuss and  vote on a wider range of issues than the House will allow."

The full text of Koger's piece is below. It's a fascinating read.

The Rise of the 60-Vote Senate

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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