Research desk graphs: More filibuster data than you know what to do with
By Dylan Matthews
How many senate filibusters/cloture votes have taken place during 111th Congress?
What were the motions being filibustered and on what dates did they take place?
One hundred nine cloture motions or votes have been filed; only 105 motions were filed, but four involved a reconsideration of the initial vote. Also note that the Senate tally does not yet include the successful invocation of cloture on unemployment insurance extension yesterday. Here's how motions and votes break down month by month:
The raw numbers here can be misleading. Most people would say the most critical cloture votes took place in December, where the total (seven) is only in the midrange, but where four of those votes concerned the passage of health-care reform. Here's how the votes broke down in terms of result. Invoked means a vote was held and debate was successfully ended, failed means a vote was held but fell short of 60 votes, vitiated means the motion was thrown out, and withdrawn and no action are exactly what they sound like:
The most interesting data on filibusters, though, are year by year. Here's how the number of cloture motions filed in each Congress has changed since the 66th Congress, which began in 1919:
As anyone who's read this blog for a while knows, the number of bills on which a cloture motion had to be filed to receive a vote has skyrocketed in the past few decades, and especially in the past two Congresses; keep in mind that the last data point refers to the current Congress, which will likely see still more cloture motions. Also interesting is that in this Congress, the rate of failure has gone way down, from 51 failed votes in the last Congress to 12 in the current one. Partly that reflects a bigger majority on the part of the Democrats, but it also indicates that Harry Reid has been very careful about filing for cloture only when he knows the votes are there.
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