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Filibustering in the U.S. Senate By Lauren C. Bell

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Filibustering in the U.S. Senate


It seems perfectly appropriate that it has taken a decade to bring a book about filibusters to fruition. It took that long to condense the several hundred hours I spent poring over past issues of the Washington Post, the New York Times, Congressional Quarterly (CQ) Weekly Report, the Congressional Record,the Congressional Globe,Maclay's Journals,and the Senate Register of Debate into what I hope is a coherent portrait of the history and determinants of filibustering in the Senate. Along the way, I learned a terrific amount about the personalities and proclivities of some of the Senate's most colorful individuals, past and present. The filibuster is unique among parliamentary procedures because it owes its existence to the absence of any rule or norm that prohibits it. It has been called an anachronism and a menace, and it has been blamed for any number of the Senate's ills. And yet, it persists, in large part because it is rooted in many of the things that give the Senate its unique character—norms of respect, deference, and reciprocity to one's colleagues. If there is an irony, perhaps it is that a procedural tactic that is rooted in tradition, deference, respect, reciprocity, and collegiality is considered to be so