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Filibustering Within the Senate - Research Paper Example

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Filibustering in the Senate Name: Institution: FILIBUSTERING IN THE SENATE In the United States, the filibuster is used in both the US and State Senate as powerful device in debate. Only thirteen states allow for filibustering, and Texas is one of them. In the US Senate, it has meant that the majority of legislation needs a sixty percent vote in order to bring a nomination or bill to the Senate floor (Wawro & Schickler, 2012)…
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Filibustering Within the Senate
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Download file to see previous pages The Supreme Court, in 1892, ruled that Senate rules could be changed through a simple majority, although this could occur only in March or January’s first day session. On this day, rules are determined anew with the rules not automatically continuous to the next session. Proponents refer to this as the constitutional option while opponents call it the nuclear option. Rule changes can be filibustered under rules currently in force in the US Senate, with two thirds of voting Senators needed to break it (Arenberg & Dove, 2012). In the US Senate, the process will still take floor time even if it is unsuccessful in the first attempt. Filibustering, however, is not a preserve of the US Senate. In particular, the Senate in Texas has a tradition of obstruction with over one hundred filibusters in the last seventy years (Newell, 2011). The State also has the longest filibuster in US history, lasting over forty-three hours in 1957. In fact, in 2003, Texas Senators fled the State in order to deny a quorum for the majority party. This shows that filibustering is not an anomaly of the US Senate, being a general phenomenon that also exists in Texas with Senators exploiting the rules in existence to gain leverage and block measures. The Texas state uses various filibustering forms, including prolonged speaking, quorum breaking, and dilatory motions that are meant to kill time (Brown, 2012). In addition, the Senate in Texas limits debate using a previous question motion, although this does not make it impossible to filibuster. Unlike the situation in the US Senate, Texas Senators need to apply actual effort in their filibustering. Texas Senators in a filibuster are limited to relevant topics with regards to the bill in the Senate and are not allowed to use the restroom, drink, or eat when presenting their speech (Maxwell et al, 2012). Texas Senate rules also prohibit leaning on chairs or sitting at any time under any circumstances when a Senator is on the floor of the house and addressing the resolution or bill. The filibuster will end when there is voluntary withdrawal by the Senator or if the Senator violates the debate and decorum rules three times. The Senate will then vote after the third violations on a point of order that, if sustained, will see the Senator involuntarily yield his/her floor-time (Janda et al, 2013). In both the US and Texas Senate, it is worth noting that the manner in which Senators filibuster subtracts or adds from the difficulty of a filibuster that is active (Santos, 2011). It is easier for Senators to filibuster when seated, or even making repeated calls, quorum calls, or sending documents for loud reading by the chamber clerk. Speaking and standing is a taxing activity with the two Senates limiting the power of obstruction through interpretation of rules to ensure that filibustering is difficult. It also ensures that it is easier to call Senators to order (Beth, 2011). One instance in the Texas Senate saw three strikes against Senator Wendy Davis because another Senator helped her to re-strap her back brace. The other two violations involved germaneness requirements in the discussion of a Texas law that needed sonograms prior to abortions ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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