Posted by: chronicler55 | March 25, 2009

A Note about Cloture

It has occurred to me that a great many people have no idea what a cloture vote is or means.  The Senate website explains cloture as:

cloture – The only procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby overcome a filibuster. Under the cloture rule (Rule XXII), the Senate may limit consideration of a pending matter to 30 additional hours, but only by vote of three-fifths of the full Senate, normally 60 votes.

The Senate cannot vote on a matter until they agree to stop talking. The Senate rules allow for a Senator or group of Senators to talk a bill to death.  The non-stop talking is called a fillibuster. The minority party in the Senate can fillibuster a bill if they strongly dislike it, and know the majority of 51+ senators would pass the bill if it came up for a vote.

That is, unless 60 of the Senators (rather than the majority of 51) agree to stop debate on the bill. If 60 Senators agree, the others have to stop talking after 30 hours, and the way is cleared for a vote. The vote which requires 60 Senators is called the cloture vote.

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