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Audio: Listen to Journalist Timothy Noah Chronicle the Rise of the Filibuster

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Duration: 01:41
Listen to everything you didn't know about the filibuster. In this clip, Journalist Timothy Noah explains how the filibuster went from far and few in between to coming with the passage of nearly every major piece of legislation.
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Listen to everything you didn't know about the filibuster. In this clip, Journalist Timothy Noah explains how the filibuster went from far and few in between to coming with the passage of nearly every major piece of legislation.
Audio Transcription
in the battle days. Just about the only good thing you could say about the filibuster was that it wasn't used very often, usually a sought most one or two in any given year. The old fashioned, stem winding filibuster was replaced with a new fangled procedural filibuster. Filibustering senators no longer had to speechify themselves horse like Jimmy Stewart. There's no place out there for graft or greed or lies. They could simply point out that the majority lacks 60 votes to halt the filibuster. Where once you'd see one or two filibusters each year in the 19 fifties, the number rose to 22 30 in the 19 seventies. Then, in 2007 Democrats regained the Senate majority. Would you like to guess how many filibusters Republicans waged in 2007 and 2008? 112? Today we take it for granted that any major piece of legislation needs not 51 votes to pass, but 60. The Senate has become a sort of Quaker meeting house where every decision must be unanimous or close to it. The world's greatest deliberative body is now on the Lasses pit. Back in 2005 a few senators in the Republican majority wanted restore simple majority rule by restricting the filibusters use. Democrats scream bloody murder on the GOP backed off. Now in 2010 a few senators in the Democratic majority want to restore simple majority rule by restricting the filibusters use. The Senate won't take action because it has a high regard for its traditions. One of those traditions is the filibuster. Another tradition, though, is passing legislation of significance that may be rendered extinct by the filibuster. Given the choice between traditions, I know which I'd choose.
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