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History Briefing: Filibuster and Cloture


Using the filibuster to delay debate or block legislation has a long history. The term filibuster, from a Dutch word meaning "pirate," became popular in the United States during the 1850s when it was applied to efforts to hold the Senate floor in order to prevent action on a bill.

Read about filibusters and cloture proceedings.


Learn more about the filibuster by reading these essays from the Senate Historian’s office.

Cloture Rule, March 8, 1917

Huey Long Filibusters, June 12-13, 1935

"Mr. Smith" Comes to Washington, October 17, 1939

Getting Even, November 14, 1942

Wayne Morse Sets Filibuster Record, April 24-25, 1953

Civil Rights Filibuster Ended, June 10, 1964

Filibuster Derails Supreme Court Appointment, October 1, 1968


Read up on filibuster and cloture with this report.

Filibusters and Cloture in the Senate (pdf)


Interested in related materials? Take a look at this Virtual Reference Desk subject for more information.

Cloture