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On May 4, 1918, Senator Underwood introduced a resolution (S. Res. 235) further amending rule XXII, reestablishing the use of the “previous question” and limiting debate during the war period.
On May 31, 1918, the Committee on Rules favorably reported out Senate Resolution 235 with a report (No. 472).
June 3, 1918, the Senate debated the resolution and Senator Borah offered an amendment.
June 11, 1918, the Senate further debated the resolution and a unanimous consent agreement was reached to vote on the measure.
June 12, 1918, the resolution was further amended, by Senator Cummins.
June 13, 1918, the Senate rejected the resolution, nays 41 and yeas 34. 1921
From March 4, 1921, to March 4, 1923, during the 67th Congress, five resolutions were introduced to limit debate in some form. These were referred to the Committee on Rules. 1922
On November 29, 1922, upon the occasion of the famous filibuster against the Dyer antilynching bill, a point of order was raised by the Republican floor leader against the methods of delay employed by the obstructionists which, had the Chair sustained it, would have established a significant precedent in the Senate as it did in the House. The incident occurred as follows:
Immediately upon the convening of the Senate, the leader of the filibuster made a motion to adjourn. Mr. Curtis made the point of order that under rule III no motion was in order until the Journal had been read. He also made the additional point of order that the motion to adjourn was dilatory. To sustain his point, Mr. Curtis said: “I know we have no rule of the Senate with reference to dilatory motions. We are a legislative body, and we are here to do business and not to retard business. It is a well-stated principle that in any legislative body where the rules do not cover questions that may arise general parliamentary rules must apply.
“The same question was raised in the House of Representatives when they had no rule on the question of dilatory motions. It was submitted to the Speaker of the House, Mr. Reed. Mr. Speaker Reed held that, notwithstanding there was no rule of the House upon the question, general parliamentary law applied, and he sustained the point of order."
The Vice President sustained Mr. Curtis' first point of order in regard to rule III but did not rule on the point that the motion was dilatory.
Senate Republicans voted 32 to 1 in party conference on May 25 for majority cloture on revenue and appropriation bills. 1925
On March 4, 1925, the Vice President, Charles G. Dawes, delivered his inaugural address to the Senate, in which he recommended that debate be further limited in the Senate.
On March 5, 1925, Senator Underwood introduced the following cloture resolution (S. Res. 3) embodying the Vice President's recommendation on further limitation of debate, which was referred to the Committee on Rules.
"Resolved, That the rules of the Senate be amended by adding thereto, in lieu of the rule adopted by the Senate for the limitation of debate on March 8, 1917, the following:
“1. There shall be a motion for the previous question which, being ordered by a majority of Senators voting, if a quorum be present, shall have the effect to cut off all debate and bring the Senate to a direct vote upon the immediate question or questions on which it has been asked and ordered. The previous question may be asked and ordered upon a single motion, a series of motions allowable under the rules, or an amendment or amendments, or may be made to embrace all authorized motions or amendments and include the bill to its passage or rejection. It shall be in order, pending the motion for, or after previous question shall have been ordered on its passage, for the presiding officer to entertain and submit a motion to commit, with or without instruction, to a standing or select committee.
“2. All motions for the previous question shall, before being submitted to the Senate, be seconded by a majority, by tellers if demanded.
“3. When a motion for the previous question has been seconded, it shall be in order, before final vote is taken thereon, for each Senator to debate the proposition to be voted for 1 hour.”
Other resolutions introduced in the first session of the 69th Congress limiting debate were Senate Resolution 25; Senate Resolution 225; Senate Resolution 217; Senate Resolution 59; Senate Resolution 77; Senate Resolution 76; which were also referred to the Committee on Rules. 1925
Robinson (Arkansas) said: "No change in the written rules of the Senate is necessary to prevent irrelevant debate. Parliamentary procedures everywhere contemplates that a speaker shall limit his remarks to the subject under consideration. The difficulty grows out of the failure of the presiding officer of the Senate to enforce this rule.
Jones (Washington) proposed a threefold plan of reform: (1) Extend the existing rule which forbids amendments not germane to appropriation bills to general legislation; (2) compel Senators to confine their remarks to the subject under consideration unless permitted by unanimous consent to do otherwise; (3) limit debate on measures other than revenue or appropriation bills after they have been under consideration 10 days and it has been impossible to reach a unanimous consent agreement for their disposal.
Fess and Jones introduced resolutions for a rule of relevancy. 1926
Underwood (Alabama) offered a resolution to limit debate by majority vote to appropriation and revenue bills. 1933
Adoption of 20th amendment (February 6, 1933), by doing away with short sessions, would eliminate filibusters, so Norris believed. But subsequent events demonstrated that filibustering minorities are still able to delay urgent legislation. The final sessions of the 73 and 74th Congresses, the first two to function under the amendment, ended in filibusters. 1935
Chair ruled that a quorum call is the transaction of business and that Senators who yield for that purpose lose the floor. Under this ruling, a speaker yielding twice for quorum calls, if they are in order, while the same question is before the Senate, is unable to regain the floor on that question during the same legislative day. 1939
Reorganization Act of 1939 (Public Law 19, 76th Cong., 1st sess.) limited debate to 10 hours, to be divided equally between those for and against, upon a resolution to disapprove a Presidential reorganization proposal. 1945
The Reorganization Act of 1945 (Public Law 263, 79th Cong., 1st sess.) contained the same "antifilibuster rule" as the Reorganization Act of 1939. This rule reads: "Debate on the resolution shall be limited to not to exceed 10 hours, which shall be equally divided between those favoring and those opposing the resolution. A motion further to limit debate shall not be debatable. No amendment to, or motion to recommit, the resolution shall be in order, and it shall not be in order to move to reconsider the vote by which the resolution is agreed to or disagreed to." 1946
Republican steering committee delegated Senator Saltonstall to prepare an amendment to rule 22 "so that the various dilatory methods of preventing its application can be eliminated” (May 21, 1946).
Knowland proposed (S. Res. 312) new standing rule prohibiting the receipt or consideration of any amendment to any bill or resolution which is not germane or relevant to the subject matter thereof. Referred to Rules Committee (July 25, 1946).
Moses urged thorough study of the rules of the Senate "to the end of completely revising them.” He also submitted a resolution (s. Res. 314) directing the Parliamentarian of the Senate to "prepare a complete and annotated digest” of its precedents (July 25, 1946). Referred to Rules Committee. (The Parliamentarian is compiling the precedents of the Senate under authority of a similar resoution passed several years ago.)
Saltonstall, Knowland, Morse, and Pepper introduced resolutions to amend Rule 22 so as to make cloture apply to any measure or motion or other matter pending before the Senate by a majority vote of those voting or by a majority vote of the entire membership of the Senate. Rules Committee on April 3, 1947, reported a resolution (S. Res. 25) amending rule 22 by making cloture apply to "any measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate or the unfinished business,” but making no cha in the current voting requirements of rule 22 or in the limitation of debate after cloture is invoked.
Pepper (Florida) revived suggestion that Senate adopt a new rule making irrelevant debate out of order. He also proposed to limit debate on a motion to make any subject the unfinished business of the Senate, to make such a motion privileged, and have it decided by majority vote.
Holland (Florida) suggested that majority cloture be adopted only for the closing day or days of a session and that two-thirds cloture be required at other times. 1948
On July 28 Tobey introduced a resolution (S. Res. 270) “that during the present special session of the Congress, in the interests of efficiency and conservation of time, no Senator shall speak more than once, on any subject, and no more than 30 minutes thereon.” No action.
Vandenberg, President pro tem, in sustaining point of order against petition to close debate on motion to consider the antipoll tax bill, expressed his belief that:
"* * * in the final analysis, the Senate has no effective cloture rule at all * * * a small but determined minority can always prevent cloture, under the existing rules * * * a very few Senators have it in their power to prevent Senate action on anything * ** the existing Senate rules regarding cloture do not provide conclusive cloture. They still leave the Senate, rightly or wrongly, at the mercy of unlimited debate ad infinitum” (August 2, 1948).
Republican conference appointed committee of 10 Senators to consider and recommend revision of existing cloture rule (August 1948). Members of this committee were: Brooks (chairman), Wherry, Hickenlooper, Knowland, Lodge, Jenner, Bricker, Ives, Ferguson, Saltonstall. 1949
During the 81st Congress 8 resolutions were introduced to amend the cloture rule, 5 in the 1st session and 3 in the 2d session. Nineteen Senators joined in sponsoring these resolutions: Myers, Morse, Saltonstal), Knowland, Ferguson, Ives, Hayden, Wherry, Pepper, Humphrey, Lehman, Murray, Thomas of Utah, Magnuson, McMahon, Kilgore Neely, Douglas, and Benton. The resolutions were: Senate Resolutions 11, 12, 13, 15, 19, 283, 322, 336. All were referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration which held public hearings on the first 5 resolutions on January 24, 25, 26, 28, 31, and February 1, 1949.
After a move to discharge the committee, it reported (Rept. No. 69) without amendment the Hayden-Wherry resolution (S. Res. 15) on February 17. A motion to take up Senate Resolution 15 was considered in the Senate at intervals from February 28 to March 17, 1949, when it was amended and agreed to. On March 10 a motion was presented to close debate on the motion to consider Senate Resolution 15. Mr. Russell made a point of order against the cloture motion which was overruled by the Chair. On appeal from the decision of the Chair, the decision of the Chair was not sustained on March 11 by a vote of 41 to 46. 1950
During the 2d session of the 81st Congress 3 resolutions were introduced to liberalize the cloture rule adopted in 1949. They were Senate Resolution 283, by Mr. Saltonstall, on May 22, 1950; Senate Resolution 322, by Mr. Morse and Mr. Humphrey, on August 2, 1950; and Senate Resolution 336, by Mr. Lehman and 9 others, on August 24, 1950. All these resolutions were referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration, which took no action upon them.
On May 5, 1950, Senator Lucas moved to proceed to the consideration of the FEPC bili (S. 1728). On May 19 a motion to close debate on the motion to take up the FEPC bill was defeated by a vote of 52 yeas to 32 nays. Under the 1949 cloture rule it would have required the votes of 64 Senators—two-thirds of those duly elected and sworn to close debate. This was the first test of the cloture rule as amended in 1949. Republicans voted 33 for cloture, 6 against. Democrats voted 19 for cloture, 26 against. Twelve Senators were absent, of whom 9 were Democrats and 3 were Republicans. One of the absentees-Senator Withers (Democrat of Kentucky)—was formally announced as opposing application of
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.