An analysis of the history of filibusters in the Senate over the last 30 years shows that Senate Republicans’ use of the tactic has been unprecedented. Having forced 42 cloture votes already this year – more than in any two year term before 1985-1986 – Senate Republicans are on pace to force 153 cloture votes over the course of the term, nearly three times as many as the 52 of the previous term and far ahead of the record of 61.
Senate Republicans are using filibusters to block legislation at an unprecedented pace:
Graphic: McClatchy, 7/20/07
Senate Republicans Are Threatening Filibusters to Block More Legislation than Ever Before. “This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that’s rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress. The trend has been evolving for 30 years. The reasons behind it are too complex to pin on one party. But it has been especially pronounced since the Democrats’ razor-thin win in last year’s election, giving them effectively a 51-49 Senate majority, and the Republicans’ exile to the minority. Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation.” [McClatchy, 7/20/07]
Senate Is on Record-Shattering Pace for Cloture Votes. “This is a very different year, one on a record-shattering pace for cloture votes, one where the threat of filibuster has become routinized in a way we have not seen before. As Congressional Quarterly pointed out last week, we already have had 40 cloture votes in six-plus months; the record for a whole two-year Congress is 61.” [Ornstein Column, AEI, 7/18/07]
Republicans Have Obstructed on Issues Other than Iraq. “But the obstructionist tactics have gone well beyond Iraq, to include things such as the 9/11 commission recommendations and the increase in the minimum wage, intelligence authorization, prescription drugs and many other issues.” [Ornstein Column, AEI, 7/18/07]
Senator Lott Admitted to Using Obstructionist Tactics. “Is this obstructionism? Yes, indeed–according to none other than Lott. The Minority Whip told Roll Call, ‘The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. For [former Senate Minority Leader Tom] Daschle, it failed. For Reid it succeeded, and so far it’s working for us.’ Lott’s point was that a minority party can push as far as it wants until the public blames them for the problem, and so far that has not happened.” [Ornstein Column, AEI, 7/18/07]