Filibusters and the Senate Rules

March 13, 1925

Report Outline
History of Senate Rule XXII
Legislation Defeated by Filibusters 1915–1925
Proposal to Abolish the Short Session
Past Filibusters and Efforts to Limit Debate
Proposal for Previous Question Rule
Arguments on Limitation of Debate

The immediate introduction by Senator Underwood, a leader of the Democratic minority, of a resolution to carry out the demand voiced by the Republican Vice President in his inaugural address that the rules of the Senate be revised to provide against minority obstruction has laid the ground work for a decisive contest in the new Congress to set aside the time-honored rule of unlimited Senatorial debate.

Point has been given to the Vice President's criticisms of the Senate rules by current threats of filibuster in the special session of the Senate and the warning of Senator Norris that, he will organize a filibuster to defeat all appropriation bills in the short session of the present Congress unless final action has meanwhile been taken on his constitutional amendment to abolish the short session.

Numerous efforts have been made in the past to abolish the filibuster as a weapon of Senate minorities through the adoption of an effective rule for closing debate. On each occasion, however, the principle of unlimited debate has been strongly upheld by the minority, whether Republican or Democratic, in combating the cloture proposals of majority leaders. The cloture rule of 1917 was an exception, in that its adoption was brought about through an agreement between the majority and the minority, but it has proved in practice to be incapable of accomplishing the purpose for which it was designed.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oct. 15, 2021  The Senate Filibuster
Mar. 19, 1947  Majority Cloture for the Senate
Apr. 04, 1935  Control of Obstruction in Congress
Mar. 13, 1925  Filibusters and the Senate Rules
Congress Actions
Organization of Congress