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Audio: Listen to NowThis Explain The Intricacies of the Filibuster

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Duration: 01:50
Listen to everything you didn't know about the filibuster on Vurbl. In this clip, the team from NowThis explains the ins and outs of the filibuster, including what senators can and cannot do during, from bathroom breaks to what they can drink.
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Listen to everything you didn't know about the filibuster on Vurbl. In this clip, the team from NowThis explains the ins and outs of the filibuster, including what senators can and cannot do during, from bathroom breaks to what they can drink.
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The most well known examples of filibusters are when a senator or group of senators takes the Senate floor for a speech and does not yield it until 3/5 of the Senate agree to end that filibuster. What this essentially means is that instead of a bill passing by a simple majority of 51 any senator can pause a bill's passage until 60 senators agree to end the filibuster. This is called closure. Filibusters are particularly useful for bills that are expected to pass by a narrow margin, or which are especially controversial. However, a senator does not actually have to take the floor or even make themselves known in order to start a filibuster. Just the threat of a filibuster is enough to force a vote to see if they can gather a potential closure or the 60 senators to oppose it. If a senator does decide to take the floor, there are rules they must follow for the filibuster to be considered active. They have to stay standing the whole time, and they cannot leave the Senate floor. They cannot consume anything except for water or milk, and they can't leave to go to the bathroom. The only way to catch a break is to yield time to a supporting senator, who will, in turn ask a long question while the original senator then takes care of personal business. One example of a successful filibuster was in 1946 when a number of senators delayed the passage of an anti discrimination bill and the bill's supporters were unable to gather enough senators to call for a closure. This meant that the only way to end the filibuster and get back to work was to drop the bill from consideration. So the bill was abandoned. Another example, and perhaps the most famous one was wind. South Carolina's Strom Thurman took the floor for more than 24 hours against the 1957 Civil Rights Act despite being the longest individual filibuster ever. The bill still ended up passing after he was done
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