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cloture. (For discussion of the failure of the new cloture rule on its first try, see Congressional Record, May 19, 1950, pp. 7300–7307.)
On July 12, 1950, a second attempt to invoke cloture on the motion to permit consideration of the FEPC bill (S. 1728) was defeated by a vote of 55 to 33, 9 votes short of the required number. (For further discussion of the pros and cons of the 1949 cloture rule, see Congressional Record, July 12, 1950, pp. 9976–9985.) 1951-52
During the 82d Congress four resolutions to amend the Senate cloture rule were introduced:
Senate Resolution 41, by Mr. Morse and Mr. Humphrey, providing for simple majority cloture;
Senate Resolution 52, by Mr. Ives and Mr. Lodge, providing for constitutional majority (49) cloture:
Senate Resolution 105, by Mr. Lehman and 10 others, providing for simple two-thirds cloture after a waiting period of 48 hours or, alternatively, for simple majority cloture after 15 days of debate; and
Senate Resolution 203, by Mr. Wherry, providing for cloture by two-thirds of those present and voting.
These resolutions were referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration which held hearings on them on October 2, 3, 9, and 23, 1951. On March 6, 1952, the committee reported favorably on Senate Resolution 203, with an amendment lengthening the time limit between the filing of a cloture motion and the vote thereon from 1 to 5 intervening calendar days (S. Rept. No. 1256, 82d Cong., 2d sess.).
Senate Resolution 203, if adopted, would restore the voting requirement for cloture which was in effect from 1917 to 1949, i. e., two-thirds of those Senators present and voting instead of two-thirds of those duly chosen and sworn. Senate Resolution 203 leaves subsection 3 of the present rule XXII unaltered, which means that debate would remain unlimited on proposals to change any of the standing rules of the Senate.
Dissenting views were filed by Mr. Lodge who felt that Senate Resolution 203 "will make no practical difference insofar as the prevention of future filibusters is concerned”; by Mr. Hendrickson who urged adoption of a simple majority cloture rule; and by Mr. Benton who favored Senate Resolution 105. No further action was taken on the subject during 1952. 1953–54
During the 83d Congress four resolutions to amend the Senate cloture were introduced:
Senate Resolution 20, by Mr. Jenner, providing for cloture by two-thirds of those present and voting;
Senate Resolution 31, by Mr. Ives, providing for cloture by a majority of the Senate's authorized membership; a 12-day interval (exclusive of Sundays and legal holidays) between the filing of a cloture petition and the vote thereon; and deleting subsection 3 of rule 22 and all reference to it in subsection 2;
Senate Resolution 63, by Mr. Lehman and 7 others, repealing subsection 3 of rule XXII and providing 2 methods of cloture: by two-thirds of those voting after 1 intervening day following filing of the petition, or, if this failed, by a majority of those voting following an interval of 14 days; and
Senate Resolution 291, by Mr. Morse, providing for cloture by a majority of those voting and repealing subsection 3 of rule XXII.
These resolutions were referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration which, after consideration, favorably reported Senate Resolution 20 to the Senate with an amendment (S. Rept. 268). The resolution was placed on the calendar, but no further action was taken. Senate Resolution 291 was ordered to lie on thé table, July 22, 1954. Individual views were filed by Mr. Green and Mr. Hennings (S. Rept. 268). Floor consideration of Senate Resolution 20 was objected to on 4 calendar calls during the 1st session and on 6 calendar calls during the 2d session of the 83d Congress.
The major event of the 83d Congress as regards efforts to limit debate in the Senate was the Anderson motion. At the opening of the 83d Congress advocates of majority rule in the Senate challenged the conception of the Senate as a continuing body. They based their strategy on the contention of Senator Walsh in 1917 that each new Congress brings with it a new Senate, entitled to consider and adopt its own rules. They proposed to move for consideration of new rules on the first day of the session and, upon the adoption of this motion, to propose that all the old rules be adopted with the exception of rule XXII. Rule XXII was to be changed to allow a majority of all Senators (49) to limit debate after 14 days of discussion.
Accordingly, on January 3, 1953, Senator Anderson, on behalf of himself and 18 other Senators, moved that the Senate immediately consider the adoption of rules for the Senate of the 83d Congress. Senator Taft then moved that the Anderson motion be tahled. In the ensuing debate the Anderson motion was supported by Senators Douglas, Humphrey, Lehman, Ives, Hendrickson, Neely, Morse, and Murray.
Senator Douglas told the Senate that the Anderson proposal was the only method with any hope of success. The 1949 rule, he said, “ties our hands once the Senate is fully organized. * * * For under it any later proposal to alter the rules can be filibustered and never permitted to come to a vote * * *. Therefore, if it be permanently decided that the rules of the preceding Senate apply automatically as the new Senate organizes, we may as well say farewell to any chance either for civil rights legislation or needed changes in Senate procedure” (Congressional Record, Jan. 7, 1953, p. 203).
Opponents of the Anderson motion centered principally on the argument that the Senate is a "continuing body,” bound by the rules of earlier Senates. They said that this thesis was proved because
1. Only one-third of the Senate is elected every 2 years.
2. The Constitution did not provide for the adoption of new rules every 2 years.
3. If the Senate had had the power to adopt new rules, it had lost that power through disuse.
4. The Supreme Court, they said, had decided that the Senate was a "continuing body." Debate against the rules change was led by Senator Taft who announced that the Republican policy committee had voted to oppose it in caucus; and by Senators Russell, Saltonstall, Stennis, Ferguson, Smith (New Jersey), Butler (Maryland), Maybank, and Knowland.
The Anderson motion was finally tabled by a vote of 21 to 70, taken on January 7, 1953. Taft was opposed by 15 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 1 Independent. He was supported by 41 Republicans and 29 Democrats. One additional Democrat was paired against the Taft motion; and one additional Republican was paired for it. 1955-56
During the 84th Congress only one resolution to amend the cloture rule was presented to the Senate. This was Senate Resolution 108, by Mr. Lehman, on June 14, 1955. On that day it was referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration; and on June 29 to the Subcommittee on Rules. No further action was taken on the Lehman resolution. Senate Resolution 108 provided (a) for cloture by a two-thirds vote of those voting “on the following calendar day but one” after the presentation of a petition to close debate; and (b) for cloture by a majority of those voting “on the 14th calendar day thereafter.'
OUTSTANDING SENATE FILIBUSTERS FROM 1841 TO 1955 1841-A bill to remove the Senate printers was filibustered against for 10 days.
A bill relating to the Bank of the United States was filibustered for several
weeks and caused Clay to introduce his cloture resolution. 1846—The Oregon bill was filibustered for 2 months. 1863—A bill to suspend the writ of habeas corpus was filibustered.
1876—An Army appropriation bill was filibustered against for 12 days, forcing
the abandonment of a rider which would have suspended existing election
laws. 1880—A measure to reorganize the Senate was filibustered from March 24 to
May 16 by an evenly divided Senate, until two Senators resigned, giving
the Democrats a majority. 1890—The Blair education bill was filibustered.
The “Force bill,” providing for Federal supervision of elections, was
successfully filibustered for 29 days. This resulted in the cloture resolution introduced by Senator Aldrich which was also filibustered and
the resolution failed. 1893—An unsuccessful filibuster lasting 42 days was organized against a bill for
the repeal of the Silver Purchase Act. 1901–Senator Carter successfully filibustered a river and harbor bill because it
failed to include certain additional appropriations. 1902—There was a successful filibuster against Tri-State bill proposing to admit
Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico to statehood, because the measure did not include all of Indian Territory according to the original
boundaries. 1903–Senator Tillman (South Carolina) filibustered against a deficiency appro
priation bill because it failed to include an item paying his State a war
claim. The item was finally replaced in the bill. 1907–Senator Stone filibustered against a ship-subsidy bill. 1908–Senator La Follette led a filibuster lasting 28 days against the Vreeland
Aldrich emergency currency law. The filibuster finally failed. 1911-Senator Owen filibustered a bill proposing to admit New Mexico and
Arizona to statehood. The House had accepted New Mexico, but refused Arizona because of her proposed constitution. Senator Owen filibustered against the admission of New Mexico until Arizona was replaced in the measure. The Canadian reciprocity bill passed the House and failed through a
filibuster in the Senate. It passed Congress in an extraordinary session
but Canada refused to accept the proposition. 1913—A filibuster was made against the omnibus public building bill by Senator
Stone of Missouri until certain appropriations for his State were included. 1914–Senator Burton (Ohio) filibustered against a rivers and harbors bill for 12
hours. Senator Gronna filibustered against acceptance of a conference report on
an Indian appropriation bill. In this year also the following bills were debated at great length, but finally
passed: Panama Canal tolls bill, 30 days; Federal Trade Commission bill, 30 days; Clayton amendments to the Sherman Act, 21 days;
conference report on the Clayton bill, 9 days. 1915—A filibuster was organized against President Wilson's ship purchase bill
by which German ships in American ports would have been purchased. The filibuster was successful and as a result three important appropria
tion bills failed. 1917—The armed ship bill of President Wilson was successfully filibustered, and
caused the defeat of many administration measures. This caused the adoption of the Martin resolution embodying the President's recom
mendation for a change in the Senate rules, on limitation of debate. 1919—A filibuster was successful against an oil and mineral leasing bill, causing
the failure of several important appropriation bills and necessitating an
extraordinary session of Congress. 1921—The emergency tariff bill was filibustered against in January 1921, which
led Senator Penrose to present a cloture petition. The cloture petition
failed, but the tariff bill finally passed. 1922—The Dyer antilynching bill was successfully filibustered against by a group
of southern Senators. 1923— President Harding's ship-subsidy bill was defeated by a filibuster. 1925–Senator Copeland (New York) talked at length against ratification of the
Isle of Pines Treaty with Cuba, but the treaty was finally ratified. 1926-A 10-day filibuster against the World Court Protocol was ended by a
cloture vote of 68 to 26, the second time cloture was adopted by the Senate. A bill for migratory bird refuges was talked to death by States rights advocates in the spring of 1926, a motion for cloture failing by a vote of 46 to 33.
1927—Cloture again failed of adoption in 1927 when it was rejected by 32 yeas
against 59 nays as a device to end obstruction against the Swing-Johnson
bill for development of the Lower Colorado River Basin. One of the fiercest filibusters in recent decades succeeded in March 1927,
in preventing an extension of the life of a special campaign investigating committee headed by James A. Reed of Missouri. The committee's exposé of corruption in the 1926 senatorial election victories of Frank L. Smith of Illinois and of William S. Vare in Pennsylvania had aroused the ire of a few Senators who refused to permit the continuance of the
investigation despite the wishes of a clear majority of the Senate. 1933—Early in 1933, a 2-week filibuster was staged against the Glass branch banking bill
' in which Huey Long first participated as a leading figure. “Senators found him impervious to sarcasm and no man could silence him.” Cloture was defeated by the margin of a single vote. Finally,
the filibuster was abandoned and the bill passed. 1935—The most celebrated of the Long filibusters was staged on June 12–13, 1935.
Senator Long spoke for 15%2 hours, a feat of physical endurance never before excelled in the Senate, in favor of the Gore amendment to the proposed extension of the National Industrial Recovery Act. But the
amendment was finally tabled. 1938A 29-day "feather duster” filibuster in January-February 1938 defeated
passage of a Federal antilynching bill, although an overwhelming major
ity of the Senate clearly favored the bill. 1939--- An extended filibuster against adoption of a monetary bill, extending
Presidential authority to alter the value of the dollar, continued from
June 20 to July 5, 1939, but finally failed by a narrow margin. 1942—Four organized filibusters upon the perennial question of Federal anti1944 poll-tax legislation were successful in these years. An attempt to pass 1946 fair-employment-practice legislation in 1946 was also killed by a fili1948 buster. The Senate cloture rule proved ineffective in these cases as a
device for breaking filibusters. 1949--A motion to take up a resolution (S. Res. 15) to amend the cloture rule
was debated at intervals in the Senate from February 28 to March 17
when it was amended and agreed to. 1950--A motion to take up the FEPC bill (S. 1728) was debated in the Senate,
May 8–19, 1950, a total of 9 days. Ten Senators spoke in favor of the motion to take up (really in support of the bill) and 8 Senators spoke against the motion. According to a rough calculation, the proponents of the motion and bill used 35 percent, and the opponents used 65 percent, of the space in the Congressional Record devoted to the subject. During the 9-day period 3,414 inches of the Record were consumed
with discussion of FEPC and 2,835 inches with other matters. -Mr. Malone filibustered for 11 hours against the conference report on the
slot-machine bill (S. 3357) in September 1950. 1953A prolonged debate took place on the so-called tidelands offshore oil bill.
It began April 1 and ended May 5. The tidelands debate lasted for 35 days, one of the longest on record. During this debate Senator Morse established a new record for the longest single speech. On April 24-25
he spoke for 22 hours and 26 minutes. 1954—An extended debate occurred in July 1954, on a bill to amend the Atomic
Energy Act of 1946 (S. 3690). The debate lasted 13 days. On July 26 Senator Knowland sought to invoke cloture on S. 3690, but his motion failed by a vote of 44 yeas to 42 nays.
Legislation delayed or defeated by filibusters 1 Bills
Year Reconstruction of Louisiana.
1865 Repeal of election laws.
1879 Force bill (Federal elections).
1890–91 River and harbor bills (3).
1901, 1903, 1914 Tristate bill..
1903 Colombian Treaty (Panama Canal).
1903 Ship subsidy bills (2).
1907, 1922–23 Canadian reciprocity bill.
1911 Arizona-New Mexico statehood.
1911 Ship purchase bill..
1915 Armed ship resolution -
1917 Oil and mineral leasing bill and several appropriation bills.
Legislation delayed or defeated by filibusters L-Continued
Year Antilynch bills (3)
1922, 1935, 1937–38 Migratory bird bill..
1926 Campaign investigation resolution.
1927 Colorado River bills (Boulder Dam project) (2)
1927, 1928 Emergency officers retirement bill.
1927 Washington public buildings bill..
1927 National-origins provisions in immigration laws, resolution to postpone... 1929 Oil industry investigation.
1931 Supplemental deficiency bill.
1935 Work relief bill ("prevailing wage” amendment).
1935 Flood-control bill
1935 Coal conservation bill.
1936 Antipoll tax bills (4).
1942, 1944, 1946, 1948 Fair employment practices bills (2)
1946, 1950 Numerous appropriation bills. (For a partial list of 82 such bills filed from
1876 to 1916, see Congressional Record, June 28, 1916, pp. 10152-10153.) 1 36 bills appear in this incomplete list, not including the many appropriation hills that have either been lost in the jam that resulted from filibusters or were talked to death because they failed to include items that particular Senators desired for the benefit of their States or because grants they made were considered excessive. Several successful filibusters have sought and achieved the enactment of legislation favored by the filibusters. Filibusters have succeeded not only in preventing the passage of legislation, but also in preventing the organization of the Senate, the election of its offcers, and the confirmation of Presidential appointees. They have also succeeded in modifying the terms of legislation; in delaying adjournment of Congress; in forcing special sessions, the adoption of conference reports, of neutrality legislation, and of a ship subsidy; in postponing consideration of legislation, and in raising the price of silver. Legislation has also often been defeated or modified by the mere threat of a flibuster. All the bills listed above, however, except the force bill, the armed ship resolution, and the so-called civil rights bills, were eventually enacted, in some form.
Of the 36 measures listed above, all but 11 eventually became law, in some cases after compromises had been made in their provisions following the failure of cloture. The table below, prepared at the direction of Senator Hayden, shows the later action on 35 filibustered bills.
The 36th measure (the second FEPC bill) was filibustered in 1950, subsequent to the table that follows.
Later action on 35 filibustered bills
Not passed (10)
Reconstruction of Louisiana..
1929 1927 1 1928 1 1928. 1928. 1929.
1 In special or subsequent sessions.
Source: Limitation on Debate in the Senate. Hearings before the Committee on Rules and Administration, U.S. Senate, 81st Cong., 1st sess. On resolutions relative to amending Senate rule XXII relating to cloture. January and February 1949, p. 42.