[Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 1 (Wednesday, January 4, 1995)]
[Pages S30-S44]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                    AMENDING PARAGRAPH 2 OF RULE XXV

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will now report the pending 
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 14) amending paragraph 2 of Rule XXV.

  The Senate continued with the consideration of the resolution.

                            Amendment No. 1

 (Purpose: To amend the Standing Rules of the Senate to permit cloture 
   to be invoked by a decreasing majority vote of Senators down to a 
            majority of all Senators duly chosen and sworn)

  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk and ask 
for its immediate consideration.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Iowa [Mr. Harkin] for himself, Mr. 
     Lieberman, Mr. Pell, and Mr. Robb, proposes an amendment 
     numbered 1.

  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of 
the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

       At the appropriate place, insert the following:


       Paragraph 2 of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the 
     Senate is amended to read as follows:
       ``2. (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of rule II or rule 
     IV or any other rule of the Senate, at any time a motion 
     signed by sixteen Senators, to bring to a close the debate 
     upon any measure, motion, other matter pending before the 
     Senate, or the unfinished business, is presented to the 
     Senate, the Presiding Officer, or clerk at the direction of 
     the Presiding Officer, shall at once state the motion to the 
     Senate, and one hour after the Senate meets on the following 
     calendar day but one, he shall lay the motion before the 
     Senate and direct that the clerk call the roll, and upon the 
     ascertainment that a quorum is present, the Presiding Officer 
     shall, without debate, submit to the Senate by a yea-and-nay 
     vote the question: ``Is it the sense of the Senate that the 
     debate shall be brought to a close?'' And if that question 
     shall be decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the 
     Senators duly chosen and sworn--except on a measure or motion 
     to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary 
     affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present 
     and voting--then said measure, motion, or other matter 
     pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, shall 
     be the unfinished business to the exclusion of all other 
     business until disposed of.
       ``Thereafter no Senator shall be entitled to speak in all 
     more than one hour on the measure, motion, or other matter 
     pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, the 
     amendments thereto, and motions affecting the same, and it 
     shall be the duty of the Presiding Officer to keep the time 
     of each Senator who speaks. Except by unanimous consent, no 
     amendment shall be proposed after the vote to bring the 
     debate to a close, unless it had been submitted in writing to 
     the Journal Clerk by 1 o'clock p.m. on the day following the 
     filing of the cloture motion if an amendment in the first 
     degree, and unless it had been so submitted at least one hour 
     prior to the beginning of the cloture vote if an amendment in 
     the second degree. No dilatory motion, or dilatory amendment, 
     or amendment not germane shall be in order. Points of order, 
     including questions of relevancy, and appeals from the 
     decision of the Presiding Officer, shall be decided without 
       ``After no more than thirty hours of consideration of the 
     measure, motion, or other matter on which cloture has been 
     invoked, the Senate shall proceed, without any further debate 
     on any question, to vote on the final disposition thereof to 
     the exclusion of all amendments not then actually pending 
     before the Senate at that time and to the exclusion of all 
     motions, except a motion to table, or to reconsider and one 
     quorum call on demand to establish the presence of a quorum 
     (and motions required to establish a quorum) immediately 
     before the final vote begins. The thirty hours may be 
     increased by the adoption of a motion, decided without 
     debate, by a three-fifths affirmative vote of the Senators 
     duly chosen and sworn, and any such time thus agreed upon 
     shall be equally divided between and controlled by the 
     Majority and Minority Leaders or their designees. However, 
     only one motion to extend time, specified above, may be made 
     in any one calendar day.
       ``If, for any reason, a measure or matter is reprinted 
     after cloture has been invoked, amendments which were in 
     order prior to the reprinting of the measure or matter will 
     continue to be in order and may be conformed and reprinted at 
     the request of the amendment's sponsor. The conforming 
     changes must be limited to lineation and pagination.
       ``No Senator shall call up more than two amendments until 
     every other Senator shall have had the opportunity to do 
       ``Notwithstanding other provisions of this rule, a Senator 
     may yield all or part of his one hour to the majority or 
     minority floor managers of the measure, motion, or matter or 
     to the Majority or Minority Leader, but each Senator 
     specified shall not have more than two hours so yielded to 
     him and may in turn yield such time to other Senators.
       ``Notwithstanding any other provision of this rule, any 
     Senator who has not used or yielded at least ten minutes, is, 
     if he seeks recognition, guaranteed up to ten minutes, 
     inclusive, to speak only.
       ``After cloture is invoked, the reading of any amendment, 
     including House amendments, shall be dispensed with when the 
     proposed amendment has been identified and has been available 
     in printed form at the desk of the Members for not less than 
     twenty-four hours.
       ``(b)(1) If, upon a vote taken on a motion presented 
     pursuant to subparagraph (a), the Senate fails to invoke 
     cloture with respect to a measure, motion, or other matter 
     pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, 
     subsequent motions to bring debate to a close may be made 
     with respect to the same measure, motion, matter, or 
     unfinished business. It shall not be in order to file 
     subsequent cloture motions on any measure, motion, or other 
     matter pending before the Senate, except by unanimous 
     consent, until the previous motion has been disposed of.
       ``(2) Such subsequent motions shall be made in the manner 
     provided by, and subject to the provisions of, subparagraph 
     (a), except that the affirmative vote required to bring to a 
     close debate upon that measure, motion, or other matter, or 
     unfinished business (other than a measure or motion to amend 
     Senate rules) shall be reduced by three votes on the second 
     such motion, and by three additional votes on each succeeding 
     motion, until the affirmative vote is reduced to a number 
     equal to or less than an affirmative vote of a majority of 
     the Senators duly chosen and sworn. The required vote shall 
     then be an affirmative vote of a majority of the Senators 
     duly chosen and sworn. The requirement of an affirmative vote 
     of a majority of the Senators duly chosen and sworn shall not 
     be further reduced upon any vote taken on any later motion 
     made pursuant to this subparagraph with respect to that 
     measure, motion, matter, or unfinished business.''

  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, for the benefit of the Senators who are 
here and watching on the monitors, we now have before us an amendment 
by myself, Senator Lieberman, Senator Pell, and Senator Robb that would 
amend rule XXII, the so-called filibuster rule of the U.S. Senate. This 
is an amendment that was agreed upon--at least the procedure was agreed 
upon for this amendment--between Senator Dole and myself earlier today 
under a unanimous consent agreement.
  This amendment would change the way this Senate operates more 
fundamentally than anything that has been proposed thus far this year. 
It would fundamentally change the way we do business by changing the 
filibuster rule as it currently stands.
  Mr. President, the last Congress showed us the destructive impact 
filibusters can have on the legislative process, provoking gridlock 
after gridlock, frustration, anger, and despondency among the American 
people, wondering whether we can get anything done at all here in 
Washington. The pattern of filibusters and delays that we saw in the 
last Congress is part of the rising tide of filibusters that have 
overwhelmed our legislative process.
  [[Page S31]] While some may gloat and glory in the frustration and 
anger that the American people felt toward our institution which 
resulted in the tidal wave of dissatisfaction that struck the majority 
in Congress, I believe in the long run that it will harm the Senate and 
our Nation for this pattern to continue. As this chart shows, Mr. 
President, there has indeed been a rising tide in the use of the 
filibuster. In the last two Congresses, in 1987 to 1990, and 1991 to 
1994, there have been twice as many filibusters per year as there were 
the last time the Republicans controlled the Senate, from 1981 to 1986, 
and 10 times as many as occurred between 1917 and 1960. Between 1917 
and 1960, there were an average of 1.3 per session. However, in the 
last Congress, there were 10 times that many. This is not healthy for 
our legislative process and it is not healthy for our country.
  The second chart I have here compares filibusters in the entire 19th 
century and in the last Congress. We had twice as many filibusters in 
the 103d Congress as we had in the entire 100 years of the 19th 
  Clearly, this is a process that is out of control. We need to change 
the rules. We need to change the rules, however, without harming the 
longstanding Senate tradition of extended debate and deliberation, and 
slowing things down.
  The third chart I have here shows the issues that were subject to 
filibusters in the last Congress. Some of these were merely delayed by 
filibusters. Others were killed outright, despite having the majority 
of both bodies and the President in favor of them. That is right. Some 
of these measures had a majority of support in the Senate and in the 
House, and by the President. Yet, they never saw the light of day. 
Others simply were perfunctory housekeeping types of issues.
  For example, one might understand why someone would filibuster the 
Brady Handgun Act. There were people that felt very strongly opposed to 
that. I can understand that being slowed down, and having extended 
debate on it. Can you say that about the J. Larry Lawrence nomination? 
I happen to be a personal friend of Mr. Lawrence. He is now our 
Ambassador to Switzerland, an important post. He was nominated to be 
Ambassador there, and he came through the committee fine. Yet, his 
nomination was the subject of a filibuster. Or there was the Edward P. 
Berry, Jr., nomination. There was the Claude Bolton nomination. You get 
my point.
  We had nominations that were filibustered. This was almost unheard of 
in our past. We filibustered the nomination of a person that actually 
came through the committee process and was approved by the committee, 
and it was filibustered here on the Senate floor.
  Actually, Senators use these nominations as a lever for power. If one 
Senator has an issue where he or she wants something done, it is very 
easy. All a Senator needs to do is filibuster a nomination. Then the 
majority leader or the minority leader has to come to the Senator and 
say, ``Would you release your hold on that, give up your filibuster on 
  ``OK,'' the Senator will reply. ``What do you want in return?''
  Then the deals are struck.
  It is used, Mr. President, as blackmail for one Senator to get his or 
her way on something that they could not rightfully win through the 
normal processes. I am not accusing any one party of this. It happens 
on both sides of the aisle.
  Mr. President, I believe each Senator needs to give up a little of 
our pride, a little of our prerogatives, and a little of our power for 
the good of this Senate and for the good of this country. Let me repeat 
that: Each Senator, I believe, has to give up a little of our pride, a 
little of our prerogatives, and a little of our power for the better 
functioning of this body and for the good of our country.
  I think the voters of this country were turned off by the constant 
bickering, the arguing back and forth that goes on in this Senate 
Chamber, the gridlock that ensued here, and the pointing of fingers of 
  Sometimes, in the fog of debate, like the fog of war, it is hard to 
determine who is responsible for slowing something down. It is like the 
shifting sand. People hide behind the filibuster. I think it is time to 
let the voters know that we heard their message in the last election. 
They did not send us here to bicker and to argue, to point fingers. 
They want us to get things done to address the concerns facing this 
country. They want us to reform this place. They want this place to 
operate a little better, a little more openly, and a little more 
  Mr. President, I believe this Senate should embrace the vision of 
this body that our Founding Fathers had. There is a story--I am not 
certain whether it is true or not, but it is a nice story--that Thomas 
Jefferson returned from France, where he had learned that the 
Constitutional Convention had set up a separate body called the U.S. 
Senate, with its Members appointed by the legislatures and not subject 
to a popular vote. Jefferson was quite upset about this. He asked 
George Washington why this was done. Evidently, they were sitting at a 
breakfast table. Washington said to him, ``Well, why did you pour your 
coffee in the saucer?'' And Jefferson replied, ``Why, to cool it, of 
course.'' Washington replied, ``Just so: We created the Senate to cool 
down the legislation that may come from the House.''
  I think General Washington was very wise. I think our Founding 
Fathers were very wise to create this body.
  They had seen what had happened in Europe--violent changes, rapid 
changes, mob rule--so they wanted the process to slow things down, to 
deliberate a little more, and that is why the Senate was set up.
  But George Washington did not compare the Senate to throwing the 
coffee pot out the window. It is just to cool it down, and slow it 
  I think that is what the Founding Fathers envisioned, and I think 
that is what the American people expect. That is what we ought to and 
should provide. The Senate should carefully consider legislation, 
whether it originates here, or whether it streams in like water from a 
fire hose from the House of Representatives, we must provide ample time 
for Members to speak on issues. We should not move to the limited 
debate that characterizes the House of Representatives. I am not 
suggesting that we do that. But in the end, the people of our country 
are entitled to know where we stand and how we vote on the merits of a 
bill or an amendment.
  Some argue that any supermajority requirement is unconstitutional, 
other than those specified in the Constitution itself. I find much in 
this theory to agree with--and I think we should treat all the rules 
that would limit the ability of a majority to rule with skepticism. I 
think that this theory is one that we ought to examine more fully, and 
that is the idea that the Constitution of the United States sets up 
certain specified instances in which a supermajority is needed to pass 
the bill, and in all other cases it is silent. In fact, the 
Constitution provides that the President of the Senate, the Vice 
President of the United States, can only vote to break a tie vote--by 
implication, meaning that the Senate should pass legislation by a 
majority vote, except in those instances in which the Constitution 
specifically says that we need a supermajority.
  The distinguished constitutional expert, Lloyd Cutler, a 
distinguished lawyer, has been a leading proponent of this view. I have 
not made up my mind on this theory, but I do believe it is something we 
ought to further examine. I find a lot that I agree with in that 
  But what we are getting at here is a different procedure and process, 
whereby we can have the Senate as the Founding Fathers envisioned--a 
place to cool down, slow down, deliberate and discuss, but not as a 
place where a handful--yes, maybe even one Senator--can totally stop 
legislation or a nomination.
  Over the last couple of years, I have spent a great deal of time 
reading the history of this cloture process. Two years ago, about this 
time, I first proposed this to my fellow Democratic colleagues at a 
retreat we had in Williamsburg, VA. In May of that year, I proposed 
this to the Joint Committee on Congressional Reform. Some people said 
to me at that time: Senator Harkin, of course you are proposing it, you 
are in the majority, you want to get rid of the filibuster. Well, now I 
am in the minority and I am still proposing it 
[[Page S32]] because I think it is the right thing to do.
  Let me take some time to discuss the history of cloture and the 
limitations on debate in the Senate. Prior to 1917 there was no 
mechanism to shut off debate in the Senate. There was an early version 
in 1789 of what was called the ``previous question.'' It was used more 
like a tabling motion than as a method to close debate.
  In the 19th century, Mr. President, elections were held in November 
and Congress met in December. This Congress was always a lame duck 
session, which ended in March of the next year. The newly elected 
members did not take office until the following December, almost 13 
months later. During the entire 19th century, there were filibusters. 
But most of these were aimed at delaying congressional action at the 
end of the short session that ended March 4. A filibuster during the 
19th century was used at the end of a session when the majority would 
try to ram something through at the end, over the objections of the 
minority. Extended debate was used to extend debate to March 4, when 
under the law at that time, it automatically died.
  If the majority tried to ram something through in the closing hours, 
the minority would discuss it and hold it up until March 4, and that 
was the end of it. That process was changed. Rather than going into an 
automatic lame-duck session in December, we now convene a new Congress 
in January with the new Members. I think this is illustrative that the 
filibuster used in the 19th century was entirely different in concept 
and in form than what we now experience here in the U.S. Senate.
  So those who argue that the filibuster in the U.S. Senate today is a 
time-honored tradition of the U.S. Senate going clear back to 1789 are 
mistaken, because the use of the filibuster in the 19th century was 
entirely different than what it is being used for today, and it was 
used in a different set of laws and circumstances under which Congress 
  So that brings us up to the 20th century. In 1917, the first cloture 
rule was introduced in response to a filibuster, again, at the end of a 
session that triggered a special session. This cloture rule provided 
for two-thirds of Members present and voting to cut off debate. It was 
the first time since the first Congress met that the Senate adopted a 
cloture rule in 1917. However, this cloture rule was found to be 
ineffective and was rarely used. Why? Because rulings of the chair said 
that the cloture rule did not apply to procedural matters. So, if 
someone wanted to engage in a filibuster, they could simply bring up a 
procedural matter and filibuster that, and the two-thirds vote did not 
even apply to that. For a number of years, from 1917 until 1949, we had 
that situation.
  In 1949 an attempt was made to make the cloture motion more 
effective. The 1949 rule applied the cloture rule to procedural 
matters. It closed that loophole but did not apply to rules changes. It 
also raised the needed vote from two-thirds present and voting to two-
thirds of the whole Senate, which at that time meant 64 votes. That 
rule existed for 10 years.
  In 1959, Lyndon Johnson pushed through a rules change to change the 
needed vote back to two-thirds of those present and voting, and which 
also applied cloture to rules changes.
  There were many attempts after that to change the filibuster. In 
1975, after several years of debate here in the Senate, the current 
rule was adopted, as a compromise proposed by Senator Byrd of West 
Virginia. The present cloture rule allows cloture to be invoked by 
three-fifths of Senators chosen and sworn, or 60 votes, except in the 
case of rules changes, which still require two-thirds of those present 
and voting.
  This change in the rule reducing the proportion of votes needed for 
cloture for the first time since 1917, and was the culmination of many 
years of efforts by reformers' numerous proposals between 1959 and 
  Two of the proposals that were made in those intervening years I 
found particularly interesting. One was by Senator Hubert Humphrey in 
1963, which provided for majority cloture in two stages. The other 
proposal I found interesting was one by Senator Dole in 1971 that moved 
from the then current two-thirds present and voting down to three-
fifths present and voting, reducing the number of votes by one with 
each successive cloture vote.
  We drew upon Senator Dole's proposal in developing our own proposal. 
Our proposal would reduce the number of votes needed to invoke cloture 
gradually, allowing time for debate, allowing us to slow things down, 
but ultimately allowing the Senate to get to the merits of a vote.
  Under our proposal, the amendment now before the Senate, Senators 
still have to get 16 signatures to offer a cloture motion. The motion 
would still have to lay over 2 days. The first vote to invoke cloture 
would require 60 votes. If that vote did not succeed, they could file 
another cloture motion needing 16 signatures. They would have to wait 
at least 2 further days. On the next vote, they would need 57 votes to 
invoke cloture. If you did not get that, well, you would have to get 16 
signatures, file another cloture motion, wait another couple days, and 
then you would have to have 54 votes. Finally, the same procedure could 
be repeated, and move to a cloture vote of 51. Finally, a simple 
majority vote could close debate, to get to the merits of the issue.
  By allowing this slow ratchet down, the minority would have the 
opportunity to debate, focus public attention on a bill, and 
communicate their case to the public. In the end, though, the majority 
could bring the measure to a final vote, as it generally should in a 
  Mr. President, in the 19th century, as I mentioned before, 
filibusters were used to delay action on a measure until the automatic 
expiration of the session.
  Senators would then leave to go back to their States, or Congressmen 
back to their districts, and tell people about the legislation the 
majority was trying to ram through. They could get the public aroused 
about it, to put pressure on Senators not to support that measure or 
  Keep in mind that in those days, there was no television, there was 
no radio, and scant few newspapers. Many people could not read or write 
and the best means of communication was when a Senator went out and 
spoke directly with his constituents. So it was necessary to have 
several months where a Senator could alert the public as to what the 
majority was trying to do, to protect the rights and interests of the 
  That is not the case today. Every word we say here is instantaneously 
beamed out on C-SPAN, watched all over the United States, and picked up 
on news broadcasts. We have the print media sitting up in the gallery. 
So the public is well aware and well informed of what is happening here 
in the Senate on a daily basis. We do have a need to slow the process 
down, but we do not need the several months that was needed in the 19th 
  So as a Member of the new minority here in the Senate, I come to this 
issue as a clear matter of good public policy. I am pleased to say that 
it is a change that enjoys overwhelming support among the American 
  A recent poll conducted by Action Not Gridlock--and I will have more 
to say about them in a second--found that 80 percent of Independents, 
84 percent of Democrats, and 79 percent of Republicans believe that 
once all Senators have been able to express their views, the Senate 
should be permitted to vote for or against a bill.
  As I mentioned, Mr. President, this poll was commissioned by a group 
called Action Not Gridlock, a broad array of distinguished Democratic 
and Republican leaders around the country formed to change the 
filibuster rule. These leaders include former Republican Senators Mac 
Mathias, Barry Goldwater, and Bob Stafford, as well as former Iowa 
Governor Bob Ray and former Secretary of HHS Arthur Flemming, all 
Republicans, as well as Democrats former Senator Bill Proxmire, former 
Senator Terry Sanford, and Ray Marshall. Action Not Gridlock has also 
formed a number of chapters around the country working to end the 
gridlock in Washington.
  In my own State of Iowa, there is a truly impressive bipartisan group 
working on this issue. It includes Michael Reagan, president of the Des 
Moines Chamber of Commerce; Republican majority leader of the Iowa 
House, Brent Siegrest; Abbi Swanson, president of the League of Women 
[[Page S33]] ers of Iowa; and former Democratic Congressman Berkeley 
  So, again, as you see, Mr. President, Action Not Gridlock has a broad 
array of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
  Well, slaying the filibuster dinosaur--and that is what I call it, a 
dinosaur, a relic of the ancient past--slaying the filibuster dinosaur 
has also been endorsed by papers around the country, including the New 
York Times, which just editorialized on this last Sunday; the USA 
Today; the Washington Post; the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; in my own 
State, the Des Moines Register, the Cedar Gazette, the Quad-City Times, 
and the Council Bluffs Non-Pareil.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that those editorials that I 
just mentioned be printed at this point in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                        Down With the Filibuster

       One of the mandates voters gave to Republicans on Nov. 8 
     was to reform the way Congress operates. There's no better 
     place to begin than with the Senate filibuster.
       The filibuster allows a minority to block passage of any 
     bill unless a supermajority of 60 votes in the 100-member 
     Senate can be mustered to overcome it. Republicans used the 
     filibuster liberally in the last few years to tie the 
     majority Democrats in knots.
       Next year, with Republicans in the majority, Democrats will 
     be in a position to return the favor. Nevertheless, Iowa 
     Democratic Senator Tom Harkin is right in saying that the 
     Democrats should resist the temptation to ``do unto the 
     Republicans what they did unto us.''
       Instead, Harkin is urging that the filibuster be tempered. 
     Reform-minded members of both parties should join Harkin's 
     effort. There may have been some justification for the 
     filibuster in its quaint original form, but the modern 
     version of the filibuster has become nothing more than a 
     cost-free device that lets a willful minority thwart the will 
     of the majority, or hold legislation hostage to extort 
       The filibuster evolved from the Senate's tradition of 
     unlimited debate. To carry out a filibuster, opponents of a 
     bill had to try, literally, to talk it to death. Those 
     engaged in a filibuster had to be prepared to keep talking 
     around the clock. It required determination and stamina, and 
     the filibustering senators risked arousing the public's anger 
     at their obstructionism. As a result, filibusters were rare.
       In recent years, the Senate adopted rules intended to curb 
     filibusters. They ended up having precisely the opposite 
     effect. Filibusters became an everyday tactic. By one count, 
     there were twice as many filibusters in the last two years of 
     Congress than during the entire 19th century.
       The new rules established a ``two-track'' procedure that 
     allows the Senate to continue with other business while a 
     filibuster is under way. All action does not grind to a halt, 
     as it did previously.
       The two-track rule made filibusters much easier to use. 
     Stamina is no longer required. Now, all the minority need do 
     is declare its intention to filibuster, and the Senate 
     switches to other businesses. In most cases, the mere threat 
     of a filibuster does the trick. The bill is sidetracked until 
     the majority finds 60 votes.
       The modern filibuster gives the minority an absolute veto. 
     It is, quite simply, undemocratic.
       Defenders of the filibuster have argued that it is useful 
     in preventing precipitous action. Harkin's proposal addresses 
     that argument by allowing filibusters to delay action, but 
     not stop it completely. Under his plan, the number of votes 
     required to end a filibuster would gradually decline over a 
     period of weeks until, eventually, only 51 votes would be 
       A truer reform would be to abolish the undemocratic 
     anachronism outright. Harkin's proposal is quite modest. 
     There should be no reasonable objection to it.

           [From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 30, 1994]

       If you started out to formulate the rules for a legislative 
     body in a new democracy, the last example you would follow 
     would be that of the U.S. Senate.
       Things have gotten so bad in the Senate that there is a 
     growing movement to change the rules about unlimited debate--
     the filibusters that prevent action on legislation.
       If extended debate were really used to examine issues and 
     change senators' minds by force of powerful reason, there 
     would be a case for keeping the present rules. But in truth, 
     the Senate's rules are being used to thwart the principle of 
     majority rule and to further individual or partisan political 
     interests to the detriment of the legislative process.
       To be sure, changing the cloture rule (which requires 60 
     votes to end debate and means that a 41-senator minority can 
     effectively shut down the Senate) would not be a cure-all. 
     Republicans this year have perfected the tactic of offering 
     endless amendments to unrelated bills as a means of delaying 
     legislative progress. But tempering the effect of the 
     filibuster would help.
       The fate of the western grazing lands fee change was an 
     example of the filibuster at work. In the Congress as a 
     whole, 373 votes out of 535 (70 percent) were in favor, but 
     the majority lost because 44 senators prevented cloture.
       This week, a 13-year effort to change product liability 
     laws failed because of a filibuster, just as it had in 1986 
     and 1992. The 41 senators voting against cloture included 
     archconservatives (Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., Thad Cochran, R-
     Miss., and Strom Thurmond, R-S.C.) and archliberals (Paul 
     Wellstone, D-Minn., Harris Wofford, D-Pa., and Ben Nighthorse 
     Campbell, D-Colo.) and some in between (such as Bill Bradley, 
     D-N.J., and John Breaux, D-La.). It was a good bill, one that 
     would mean more jobs without sacrificing legitimate consumer 
     interests. Much of the opposition came from trial lawyers. In 
     the end, 57 senators voted for it. Forty-one opponents were 
     enough to kill it. Is that democracy?
       The Senate has reached the point where the mere threat of a 
     filibuster can bring the body's work to a screeching halt.
       Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has suggested a four-vote process 
     that would break this impasses. On the first cloture vote, 60 
     votes would be needed to end debate, as now. On the next 
     vote, 57 would be required; on the third, 54, and on the 
     fourth, only a 51-vote majority. This would preserve Senate 
     tradition and give the minority plenty of time to plead its 
     case, without allowing a majority to be forever thwarted. 
     Sounds good to us.
       Now into the fray comes Action, Not Gridlock!, an anti-
     filibuster group dedicated to changing the Senate rules. It 
     is led by a bipartisan group of former senators, 
     representatives and other government officials. What they 
     share is believe in majority rule. We wish them godspeed.

                    [From USA Today, Nov. 25, 1994]

               Rein in the Power to Shut Down the Senate

       In 1908, Sen. Robert M. La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin was in 
     the middle of a filibuster when he discovered the eggnog he 
     was drinking for energy had been poisoned. La Follette 
     survived. So did the filibuster.
       Indeed, the filibuster today is more poisonous than La 
     Follette ever could have imagined. Instead of providing a 
     dramatic final forum for individuals against a stampeding 
     majority, it has become a pedestrian tool of partisans and 
       Since 1990, the Senate has averaged at least 15 filibusters 
     a year, more than in all the 140 years before. In 1994 alone, 
     filibusters were used to weaken or kill legislation ranging 
     from lobbying and campaign finance reform to clean water.
       You need not be a bow-tied parliamentarian to see the 
     problem. The filibuster allows single lawmakers to derail the 
     Senate's majority--easily, arbitrarily. If the Senate is to 
     honor its deliberative tradition, it must restrain the 
       The modern filibuster vexes Congress two ways. First, 
     opponents must find 60 votes to break it. That's called 
     cloture, and it's almost impossible to achieve. In 1987, only 
     one of 15 votes succeeded--on a proposal for a $12,000 
     congressional pay raise.
       Second, the mere threat of a filibuster is enough to 
     sidetrack a bill. Instead of requiring filibusters to take 
     the floor, Senate leaders just move on to the next issue.
       The 60-vote requirement means, in effect, that all 
     legislation must have a supermajority to pass. Yet the 
     Constitution requires supermajorities in only five areas: 
     treaty ratification, presidential veto overrides, impeachment 
     votes, constitutional amendments, and to expel a member of 
     Congress. The framers, who never foresaw the filibuster's 
     abuse, considered supermajorities for other matters and 
     rejected them.
       They protected against tyrannical majorities in other ways: 
     by dividing government power among three branches, by 
     splitting Congress into two parts, by guaranteeing basic 
     rights in the Constitution.
       Those are ample safeguards. The filibuster, on the other 
     hand, lets a lone lawmaker impose his will, not just amplify 
     his voice.
       Solutions? Several.
       First, make a filibusterer put his body where his mouth is. 
     Sen. Strom Thurmond prepared for his record-setting 24-hour, 
     18-minute speech against the 1957 Civil Rights Act by 
     visiting a steam room, hoping to diminish the call of nature 
     once on the floor. Sen. Estes Kefauver strapped on a 
     motorman's friend for his 1950 filibuster. The device was 
     misaligned, though, and only a timely quorum call prevented 
     him from making the wrong kind of splash.
       The point is that old-time filibusterers had to have the 
     courage of their convictions. The rigors of floor debate were 
     not undertaken lightly.
       Such was the case even when filibusterers formed talking 
     tag teams. In 1960, 18 Southern lawmakers formed two-man 
     partnerships to hold the floor against civil rights 
     legislation. After 157 hours--the Senate's longest continuous 
     session--they prevailed. That was not a proud moment in 
     national lawmaking, but at least the racists were 
     accountable, something today's fiddle-footed rules make 
       More recently, the government this year had to sell 
     billions of dollars' worth of American gold to a Canadian 
     firm for just $10,000 because filibusterers prevented reform 
     of an 1872 mining law.
       Sen. Tom Harkin this week has revived another idea: 
     Gradually lower the number of 
     [[Page S34]] votes needed for cloture. The first vote would 
     still require 60 ``ayes.'' But subsequent votes would require 
     57, then 54, then 51. This could preserve both the dramatic 
     effect of a filibuster and majority rule.
       The filibuster is a supervirus in the Senate. It causes 
     massive hemorrhaging of majority rule and the orderly process 
     of legislating. If Senate leaders don't cure themselves soon, 
     they might as well ask La Follett's ghost to, please, pass 
     the eggnog.

                [From the New York Times, Jan. 1, 1995]

                     Time to Retire the Filibuster

       The U.S. Senate likes to call itself the world's greatest 
     deliberative body. The greatest obstructive body is more like 
     it. In the last season of Congress, the Republican minority 
     invoked an endless string of filibusters to frustrate the 
     will of the majority. This relentless abuse of a time-honored 
     Senate tradition so disgusted Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat 
     from Iowa, that he is now willing to forgo easy retribution 
     and drastically limit the filibuster. Hooray for him.
       For years Senate filibusters--when they weren't conjuring 
     up romantic images of Jimmy Stewart as Mr. Smith, passing out 
     from exhaustion on the Senate floor--consisted mainly of 
     negative feats of endurance. Senator Sam Ervin once spoke for 
     22 hours straight. Outrage over these tactics and their 
     ability to bring Senate business to a halt led to the current 
     so-called two-track system, whereby a senator can hold up one 
     piece of legislation while other business goes on as usual.
       The two-track system has been nearly as obstructive as the 
     old rules. Under those rules, if the Senate could not muster 
     the 60 votes necessary to end debate and bring a bill to a 
     vote, someone had to be willing to continue the debate, in 
     person, on the floor. That is no longer required. Even if the 
     60 votes are not achieved, debate stops and the Senate 
     proceeds with other business. The measure is simply put on 
     hold until the next cloture vote. In this way a bill can be 
     stymied at any number of points along its legislative 
       One unpleasant and unforeseen consequence has been to make 
     the filibuster easy to invoke and painless to pursue. Once a 
     rarely used tactic reserved for issues on which senators held 
     passionate convictions, the filibuster has become the tool of 
     the sore loser, dooming any measure that cannot command the 
     60 required votes.
       Mr. Harkin, along with Senator Joseph Lieberman, a 
     Connecticut Democrat, now proposes to make such obstruction 
     harder. Mr. Harkin says reasonably that there must come a 
     point in the process where the majority rules. This may not 
     sit well with some of his Democratic colleagues. They are now 
     perfectly positioned to exact revenge by frustrating the 
     Republican agenda as efficiently as Republicans frustrated 
     Democrats in 1994.
       Admirably, Mr. Harkin says he does not want to do that. He 
     proposes to change the rules so that if a vote for cloture 
     fails to attract the necessary 60 votes, the number of votes 
     needed to close off debate would be reduced by three in each 
     subsequent vote. By the time the measure came to a fourth 
     vote--with votes occurring no more frequently than every 
     second day--cloture could be invoked with only a simple 
     majority. Under the Harkin plan, minority members who feel 
     passionately about a given measure could still hold it up, 
     but not indefinitely.
       Another set of reforms, more incremental but also useful, 
     is proposed by George Mitchell, who is retiring as the 
     Democratic majority leader. He wants to eat away at some of 
     the more annoying kinds of brakes that can be applied to a 
     measure along its legislative journey.
       One example is the procedure for sending a measure to a 
     conference committee with the House. Under current rules, 
     unless the Senate consents unanimously to send a measure to 
     conference, three separate motions can be required to move it 
     along. This gives one senator the power to hold up a measure 
     almost indefinitely. Mr. Mitchell would like to reduce the 
     number of motions to one.
       He would also like to limit the debate on a motion to two 
     hours and count the time consumed by quorum calls against the 
     debate time of a senator, thus encouraging senators to save 
     their time for debating the substance of a measure rather 
     than in obstruction. All of his suggestions seem reasonable, 
     but his reforms would leave the filibuster essentially 
       The Harkin plan, along with some of Mr. Mitchell's 
     proposals, would go a long way toward making the Senate a 
     more productive place to conduct the nation's business. 
     Republicans surely dread the kind of obstructionism they 
     themselves practiced during the last Congress. Now is the 
     perfect moment for them to unite with like-minded Democrats 
     to get rid of an archaic rule that frustrates democracy and 
     serves no useful purpose.

               [From the Washington Post, Nov. 23, 1994]

                             The Gored Oxen

       One of the most comical aspects of politics concerns how 
     high principles about procedural fairness can evaporate when 
     circumstances change. There could be much such comedy in the 
     new Congress as Democrats and Republicans change roles.
       In the House, Newt Gingrich's Republicans have assembled a 
     series of reform measures that grew from their experience as 
     frustrated members of what seemed a permanent opposition. 
     They rightly criticized Democratic House leaders for closing 
     off Republican amendments to important bills. Now Mr. 
     Gingrich pledges to change that, even though doing so would 
     let the now-minority Democrats challenge the most unpopular 
     of the Republican majority's proposals. Republicans have also 
     long been in favor of the line-item veto, which would let the 
     president excise particular parts of spending bills he found 
     offensive. Republicans liked this when the Democrats in 
     Congress were responsible for writing the spending bills, 
     since they presumed that Republican presidents would cut out 
     what Republicans saw as ``pork.'' Now the line-item veto 
     would empower a Democratic president facing a Republican 
       In the Senate, the problem is different. Senate rules 
     permit essentially unlimited debate. It takes 60 votes to 
     shut the talking down. That means 41 senators can block a 
     bill and frustrate the will of even an overwhelming majority. 
     In the last Congress, the Democrats were critical of 
     Republican abuse of the filibuster. But now the procedural 
     shoe is on the other foot. It's the Democratic minority that 
     is likely to want to block many Republican measures. Will 
     Democrats keep saying the filibuster is a bad thing? To his 
     credit, one Democrat, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, has done so. 
     He proposes that the two parties agree to new rules. Mr. 
     Harkin would still let the minority slow down consideration 
     of controversial measures, but he doesn't think the minority 
     should ultimately frustrate the majority's will.
       It is not even necessary to get to the question of whether 
     the filibuster rule itself should be eliminated to believe 
     that there has been too much abuse of the filibuster in the 
     Senate. The same can be said of the closed rule in the House. 
     We hope Mr. Gingrich sticks to his promise of opening up the 
     House, even if that might sometimes inconvenience his party. 
     Similarly in the Senate, we hope both parties can find a more 
     reasonable accommodation between minority rights and majority 
     rule. Going to the brink every time, on every issue, is not 
     the way a democracy is supposed to work.

                     Harkin Earns Bouquet, Brickbat

       We have a bouquet and a brickbat for Iowa's Democratic Sen. 
     Tom Harkin.
       The bouquet is for advocating limits on the filibuster, a 
     technique used by the minority party in the U.S. Senate to 
     thwart the will of the majority.
       The brickbat is for his lukewarm support for the General 
     Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
       Harkin is calling for revision of the filibuster rules that 
     would provide a means for the minority to slow down 
     legislation and allow fuller debate, but at the same time it 
     places limits on the delaying tactic.
       Under Harkin's plan, 60 votes would be necessary in the 
     first attempt to halt a filibuster debate.
       The second attempt would require only 57 votes. The number 
     would continue to drop on each successive vote until only a 
     simple majority was needed.
       Currently, a single senator can tie up legislation 
     endlessly, which Harkin says adds to the deadlock.
       Harkin's plan would limit the delay to a maximum of about 
     three weeks.
       As American politics becomes more contentious, the 
     filibuster is being used increasingly. But Harkin says there 
     is less need for it.
       In the last century when communication was slower, senators 
     felt the need to stall for long periods to allow their 
     objections to reach constituents.
       In these days of almost instant communication, voters and 
     others can be alerted to problems in a matter of hours.
       We believe the senator is on track and should pursue his 
     efforts. Continuing the current processes is simply 
     obstructionism, whether by Republicans or Democrats.
       We are less enthusiastic about the senator's doubts 
     concerning GATT.
       Unfortunately, these seem to be based on some vague 
     concerns about ill-defined political horse trading that may 
     be under way by supporters to ensure passage of the measure 
     through the Senate.
       Passage in the House seems a surer bet with the strong 
     support voiced by Speaker-designate Newt Gingrich. Gingrich 
     seems to understand the obvious advantages for the U.S. 
     economy and the need for a workable free trade mechanism.
       We get the feeling that Harkin may not be sure which 
     direction the political winds are blowing in Iowa, and wants 
     more time to determine the level of support for GATT.
       He admits that he will likely face stiff competition for 
     his Senate seat in two years. Given the Republican landslide 
     in Iowa, political caution may become increasingly important 
     for Harkin.
       However, we do not believe this is a Republican vs. 
     Democrat issue. Passage of GATT is needed to make sure the 
     United States is a major player in the world.
       The death of GATT, which a delay very seriously threatens, 
     could throw orderly world trade into chaos and possibly lead 
     to the emergence of regional trading blocks with barriers 
     against U.S. products.
       The impact on the future of the U.S. economy could be 
     disastrous and possibly irreversible.
       The argument that senators have not had time to study the 
     GATT document is not 
     [[Page S35]] compelling. The agreement has been hammered out 
     by representatives of 123 nations over the past eight years.
       For a document of such magnitude and importance for open 
     world trade, we wonder why more attention has not been paid 
     by Harkin and others until the last weeks before the vote.
       There may be flaws. No document requiring the assent of 123 
     countries can be perfect. Every nation had to give up some 
     special interest.
       But those flaws do not appear sufficient to warrant 
     opposition to congressional passage.

                 [From Quad-City Times, Nov. 22, 1994]

                        Harkin Keeps His Promise

       Two months ago, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa expressed dismay at 
     the way Republicans had repeatedly blocked legislation that 
     was supported by a majority of the Senate.
       ``I've been in Congress 20 years,'' he said, ``and this has 
     been the worst year I've seen. The constant use of the 
     filibuster, the gridlock . . . And there's a meanness, a mean 
     spiritedness, I have never seen before.'' Harkin said he 
     intended to introduce a bill next year that would greatly 
     curtail the filibustering powers of the minority party.
       But in the two months since making those comments, Harkin 
     and other Democrats have become the minority party. With the 
     Republicans now in control of the Senate, Democrats will need 
     every weapon in the arsenal to fight the GOP agenda. So does 
     he still see a need to revise the filibuster rule?
       Yes--and his position now carries more weight because of 
     his new status as a member of the Senate's minority party.
       Today, Harkin is expected to formally announce his plans to 
     introduce a bill that would allow the filibuster to slow, but 
     not kill, legislation. The bill mirrors legislation once 
     proposed by Bob Dole, and it deserves passage.
       And Tom Harkin deserves credit for continuing to advocate 
     this long-overdue change.

                Harkin's Good Idea: Deflating Filibuster

       Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin is putting his money where his mouth 
       He is no fan of the filibuster, a device used almost 
     exclusively by minority senators to impede distasteful 
     legislation. So he has offered legislation to create an 
     alternative parliamentary tool.
       As it stands, if 41 senators (out of the 100-member 
     chamber) are able to stand firm, they can prevent action on 
     an issue by applying Senate rules allowing them to 
     filibuster. Halting the filibuster requires 60 votes. Tough 
     to get.
       Harkin and Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, have 
     co-sponsored a measure that still enables a minority to have 
     its voice, but not in perpetuity.
       It is a noteworthy position for minority lawmakers who 
     potentially could lose their only real tool against a 
     dominating majority. (It wouldn't be surprising if both are 
     confident that their upcoming minorityhood is merely an 
     aberration that voters will correct in 1996.) Their plan 
     would give the minority the 60-vote cushion on the first call 
     for cloture, dropping to 57 votes on a second call, 54 on a 
     third and, finally, to a simple majority of 51 on a fourth 
     cloture vote.
       Our sense of the filibuster has been that it can be the 
     only way a congressional minority might have a voice in 
     formation of public policy. Majority parties don't have a 
     patent on perfection, but frequently choose to ignore even 
     reasonable suggestions from minority lawmakers. There's often 
     not even a hint of the compromise we should expect in 
       Conceding that the process can be abused, however, perhaps 
     the Harkin-Lieberman approach deserves a thorough hearing. 
     Filibustering is not a constitutional right. It exists only 
     at the pleasure of Congress. Any substitute would have a 
     similarly tenuous existence.
       Gridlock has become a buzzword characterizing Congress. Any 
     mechanism to prevent that condition and restore the job 
     description originally given members of Congress would be 
     most welcome.
       The anti-gridlock, anti-filibuster concept shouldn't be 
     scrapped without closer scrutiny.

  (Mr. FRIST assumed the chair.)
  Mr. HARKIN. Let me just quote from a couple of these editorials, 
because I think it really puts things in the proper perspective.
  First, let me quote from the Des Moines Register's sterling editorial 
of the 23d of November.

       The modern filibuster gives the minority an absolute veto. 
     It is, quite simply, undemocratic.
       Defenders of the filibuster have argued that it is useful 
     in preventing precipitous action. Harkin's proposal addresses 
     that argument by allowing filibusters to delay action, but 
     not stop it completely. Under his plan, the number of votes 
     required to end a filibuster would gradually decline over a 
     period of weeks until, eventually, only 51 votes would be 
       A truer reform would be to abolish the undemocratic 
     anachronism outright. Harkin's proposal is quite modest. 
     There should be no reasonable objection to it.

  And this from the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Fort Worth, TX.

       If you started out to formulate the rules for a legislative 
     body in a new democracy, the last example you would follow 
     would be that of the U.S. Senate.
       Things have gotten so bad in the Senate that there is a 
     growing movement to change the rules about unlimited debate--
     the filibusters that prevent action on legislation.
       If extended debate were really used to examine issues and 
     change senators' minds by force of powerful reason, there 
     would be a case for keeping the present rules. But in truth, 
     the Senate's rules are being used to thwart the principle of 
     majority rule and to further individual or partisan political 
     interests to the detriment of the legislative process.

  In truth, the Senate rules are being used to thwart the principles of 
majority rule and to further individual or partisan political interests 
to the detriment of the legislative process. And this from the USA 
Today. The 60-vote requirement means, in effect, all legislation must 
have a supermajority to pass. Yet, the Constitution requires 
supermajorities in only five areas: treaty ratification, Presidential 
veto overrides, impeachment votes, constitutional amendments, and 
expelling a Member of Congress.
  The Framers, who never foresaw the filibuster's abuse, considered the 
supermajority for other matters and rejected it. They protected against 
tyrannical majorities in other ways by dividing Government power among 
three branches, by splitting Congress into two parts, and by 
guaranteeing basic rights in the Constitution.
  The USA Today editorial ends by saying, ``The filibuster is a super 
virus in the Senate. It causes massive hemorrhaging of majority rule 
and the orderly process of legislation. If Senate leaders do not curb 
themselves soon, they might as well ask LaFollette's ghost to, please, 
pass the eggnog.'' I did not read the first part of this editorial 
which says that ``In 1908, Senator Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., of 
Wisconsin, was in the middle of a filibuster, when he discovered the 
eggnog he was drinking for energy had been poisoned. La Follette 
survived, and so did the filibuster.''
  From the New York Times: ``The United States Senate likes to call 
itself the world's greatest deliberative body. Greatest obstructive 
body is more like it.''
  Later they write: ``The Harkin plan, along with some of Mr. 
Mitchell's proposals, would go a long way toward making the Senate a 
more productive place to conduct the Nation's business. Republicans 
surely dread the kind of obstructionism they themselves practiced 
during the last Congress. Now is the perfect moment for them to unite 
with like-minded Democrats to get rid of an archaic rule that 
frustrates democracy and serves no useful purpose.''
  Those are just some of the quotes from some of the editorials that I 
had asked be inserted in the Record. Mr. President, I think you get the 
idea that changing this filibuster rule has great support around the 
country, both from what one might call liberal newspapers to those of a 
more conservative bent.
  Mr. President, the Members of the Senate that were sworn in today are 
sending us a message that we need to change. The present occupant of 
the chair was one of those just sworn in today. The filibuster rule is 
one area where change is most desperately needed, a dinosaur that has 
somehow survived from a previous age.
  I would like to read a couple of other quotes. In 1893, then Senator 
Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., from Massachusetts, was opposing a filibuster. 
He made this quote:

       To vote without debate is perilous, but to debate and never 
     vote is imbecile.

  Here is another quote that I found in the Congressional Record of 
February 10, 1971:

       It is one thing to provide protection against majoritarian 
     absolutism; it is another thing again to enable a vexatious 
     or unreasoning minority to paralyze the Senate, and America's 
     legislative process along with it.

  Senator Bob Dole, February 10, 1971.
  So I consider myself to be in reasonably good company when I say that 
it is time to change the filibuster rule so that we can get on with the 
Nation's business. I know there are those who believe very strongly we 
must maintain it, but as I said earlier, Mr. President, I think it is 
time for each of us to give up a little bit of our pride, a little bit 
of our privilege, a little bit of our prerogative, and a little bit of 
[[Page S36]] power for the smoother functioning of the U.S. Senate and 
for the good of this country.
  By passing this amendment, we can take a giant step forward toward 
restoring the faith of the American people in their Government. We can 
tell the American people that we got their message that they want 
action and not gridlock. We can say that the time for change is now. 
And we can greatly improve the workings and productivity of the Senate.
  There will be many packages introduced to reform Congress. I think 
the House is even now debating reforms in their body. There will be 
reforms suggested here--gift-ban laws, lobbying disclosure laws--making 
Congress live by the same laws and regulations by which businesses 
live. These are good laws and good reforms.
  But Mr. President, there is no reform more important to this country 
and to this body than slaying the dinosaur called the filibuster. We 
need to change it so that we can really get back to what our Founding 
Fathers envisioned--a process whereby the minority can slow things 
down, debate them, but not kill things outright. Give the minority that 
  As the USA Today editorial pointed out, there are other ways the 
Framers protected against majoritarian absolutism--separate branches 
and powers, and the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
  So, Mr. President, I submit that many of the reforms that will be 
offered here in the Senate in these opening days are very good. I 
intend to support many if not all of them. But if we do not change the 
way the filibuster operates here in the Senate, then I do not think 
that we heard the message that the American people sent to us.
  With that, I see my colleague, Senator Lieberman, a cosponsor of the 
amendment, on the floor. Mr. President, I yield the floor at this time.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, thank you.
  I am very proud to join with my colleague from Iowa in cosponsoring 
and supporting this amendment. A new day has dawned here on Capitol 
Hill today. A new majority has come to power; but, hopefully, more than 
a new majority--a new sense of responsiveness to the public, a new 
understanding of what it means to do the public's business here in 
Congress, and a new openness to looking at some parts of the operation 
in Congress which we have previously either not questioned or felt it 
was inappropriate to question.
  I must say that over the last couple of years, as I watched the 
filibuster being used and, I think, in my respectful opinion, 
ultimately misused and overused, it seems to me that what had 
originally appeared to be a reasonable idea was being put to very 
unreasonable use.
  Therefore, I promised myself that if I was fortunate enough to be 
reelected by the people of Connecticut to return for the 104th 
Congress, I would do what I could to try to change this filibuster 
rule, which I am afraid has come to be a means of
 frustrating the will of a majority to do the public's business and 
respond to the public's needs. And so when I heard that Senator Harkin 
had put this program and plan together, I called him and I said, ``My 
distinguished colleague and friend, I admire you for what you are 
doing.'' There are those who undoubtedly will think this is a quixotic 
effort, that it is a kind of romantic but unfeasible effort.

  It is important now to make this effort to show that we have heard 
the message and that we are prepared to not only shake up the Federal 
Government but shake up the Congress. And not just for the sake of 
shaking it up, but because of a fundamental principle that is basic to 
our democracy, that is deep into the deliberations of the Framers of 
our Constitution and appears throughout the Federalist Papers, which is 
rule of the majority in the legislative body. It is this majority rule 
has been frustrated by the existing filibuster rule. So I am privileged 
to join as a cosponsor with my colleague from Iowa in this effort.
  Mr. President, whenever I explain to my constituents at home in 
Connecticut that a minority of Senators can by a mere threat of a 
filibuster--not even by the continuous debate, but by a mere threat of 
a filibuster--kill a bill on the Senate floor, they are incredulous. 
When I tell them that now as a matter of course a Senator needs to 
obtain 60 votes in order to pass a bill to which there is opposition, 
frankly, the folks back home are suspicious.
  When I explain how often the threat of a filibuster has been used to 
tie the Senate in knots and kill legislation that is actually favored 
by a majority of Senators--and the filibuster was used more times last 
year than in the first 108 years of the Senate combined--well, the 
folks back home honestly think I am exaggerating. Unfortunately, I am 
not. Those are the facts.
  Mr. President, when I entered the Senate 6 years ago, I asked to be 
briefed by a staff person at the Congressional Research Service on the 
Senate rules. I wanted to figure out how the place worked.
  I must say, after that briefing, I, like my constituents, was 
incredulous. I had been the majority leader of the Connecticut State 
Senate, so I had some familiarity with parliamentary procedures, but I 
must say I did not understand how the Senate's debate and amendment 
rules were being used to keep the Senate, presumably the greatest 
deliberative body in the world, from getting things done.
  Like many Americans of my generation, I remembered the dramatic 
filibuster battles of the 1950's and 1960's and assumed that 
filibusters were relatively uncommon and were employed only in the 
great issues of the time which divided a country. I assumed--like most 
Americans, I would guess, drawing from probably the broadest experience 
America has had with filibusters, which is mainly ``Mr. Smith Goes to 
Washington,'' when James Stewart stood in that magnificent portrayal 
and carried out a principled filibuster --that filibusters were to be 
reserved for only the most significant of legislative battles.
  While I quickly learned that while real filibusters are uncommon, 
current Senate rules allow the mere threat of a filibuster to rule the 
way we do or do not do business.
  The gentleman from the Congressional Research Service used a powerful 
analogy here. He said to me, ``Senator, you have to think of the Senate 
as if it were composed of 100 nations, each Senator representing a 
nation, and each nation has an atomic bomb and can blow up the place 
any time it wants. And that bomb is a filibuster.''
  That may make us feel good about our power and our authority, but it 
is not the way to run the greatest deliberative body in the world. In 
fact, I state this with some humility because I do not remember the 
exact quote, I asked the gentleman from the Congressional Research 
Service, ``Is there any precedent for this kind of procedure in the 
history of legislative bodies?''
  He said he thought the closest modern precedent was a Senate that sat 
in Poland in the 18th century which, because of unique historical 
circumstances that are not to the point, with approximately 700 
members, the rule was that nothing could be done without unanimous 
consent. That, I hope, is not the model that we aspire to copy here.
  What was once an extraordinary remedy, used only in the rarest of 
instances, has unfortunately become a commonplace tactic to thwart the 
will of the majority. Just as insidiously, allowing legislation to be 
killed on procedural votes, as we so often have here in the Senate, 
protects us from having to confront the hard choices that we were sent 
here to make and, in that sense, makes us a less accountable body.
  Mr. President, this has to end and it will not end unless an effort 
begins to end it as we are attempting to do here today. As I believe 
Senator Harkin has indicated, the Senate filibuster rule has actually 
been changed five times in this century. In most cases, particularly 
when the changes were substantial, they did not occur the first time 
the proponents charged the fortress. Perhaps they will not occur on 
this occasion. But I know Senator Harkin and I are prepared to keep 
fighting until this change occurs because of what is on the line, which 
is the credibility and the productivity of the U.S. Senate.
  The change that we are proposing, as Senator Harkin has indicated, 
[[Page S37]] make it more difficult for a minority of Senators to 
absolutely stop, to block, to kill Senate action on legislation favored 
by a majority of the Senate, but it will still protect the ability of 
that minority to be heard before up or down majority votes on 
legislation are taken. It will give the minority opposed to what the 
majority wants to do the opportunity to educate and arouse the public 
as to what may be happening here to give the public the opportunity 
perhaps to change the inclination of the majority.
  The procedure of succeeding votes with 2-day intervals, 60 being 
required, first 57, 54 and finally a simple majority of Senators being 
able to work its will--our intent here is to give the minority a chance 
to make their case and to persuade others but not to continue to grant 
them an effective veto power which they now enjoy.
  We recognize that the opposition to this proposal is bipartisan, just 
as the use of the filibuster rule has been bipartisan. We also 
understand that as Members of the new minority, Senator Harkin and I 
perhaps are not the likeliest people to be proposing to limit the 
powers of the new Democratic minority, but we both firmly believe that 
regardless of how our resolution may limit our personal options as 
Members of the minority party in the Senate in the short-term, it is 
essential that this reform be undertaken now when the problem of 
filibuster-created gridlock is so fresh in all of our minds.
  For too long, we have accepted the premise that the filibuster rule 
is immune. Yet, Mr. President, there is no constitutional basis for it. 
We impose it on ourselves. And if I may say so respectfully, it is, in 
its way, inconsistent with the Constitution, one might almost say an 
amendment of the Constitution by rule of the U.S. Senate.
  The Framers of the Constitution, this great fundamental, organic 
American document considered on which kinds of votes, on which issues 
the will of the majority would not be enough, that a vote of more than 
a majority would be required, and the Constitution has spelled those 
instances out quite clearly. Only five areas: Ratification of a treaty 
requires more than a majority of the Senate; override by the Senate of 
a Presidential veto requires more than a majority; a vote of 
impeachment requires more than a majority; passage of a constitutional 
amendment requires more than a majority; and the expulsion of a Member 
of Congress requires more than a majority.
  The Framers actually considered the wisdom of requiring 
supermajorities for other matters and rejected them.
  So it seems to me to be inconsistent with the Constitution that this 
body, by its rules, has essentially amended the Constitution to require 
60 votes to pass any issue on which Members choose to filibuster or 
threaten to filibuster.
  The Framers, I think, understood--more than understood--expressed 
through the Constitution and their deliberations and their writings, 
that the Congress was to be a body in which the majority would rule.
  I know that some of our colleagues will oppose the alteration, the 
amendment, that Senator Harkin and I are proposing on the grounds the 
filibuster is a very special prerogative that is necessary to protect 
the rights of a minority. But in doing so, and I say this respectfully, 
I believe they are not being true to the intention of the Framers of 
the Constitution, which is that the Congress was the institution in 
which the majority was to rule, not to be effectively tyrannized by a 
minority. And the Framers, Madison and the others, who thought so 
deeply and created this extraordinary instrument that has guided our 
country for more than 200 years now, developed the system in which the 
rights of the minority were to be protected by the republican form of 
government, by the checks and balances inherent in our Government and 
ultimately by the courts applying the great principles of the 
Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, to protect the rights of 
a minority that might be infringed by a wayward majority.
  So this procedure that has grown up over the years has turned the 
intention of the Framers, in my opinion, on its head, and in doing so 
has not only created gridlock but has given power to a minority as 
against the will of the majority. The majority in the Senate, as 
reflecting the majority of the people of the United States, has allowed 
that minority to frustrate the will of the majority improperly.
  So I think this is at the heart of the change for which the people 
have cried out. It is right, and it is fair. It is our belief in that 
most fundamental of democratic principles, majority rule, that 
motivates our introduction of this amendment. I am confident that if we 
ever put this issue, or could put this issue, before the American 
people for a vote, they would direct us to end the current filibuster 
practice. Majority rule is not and should not be a controversial 
proposition. Minority rights are protected by the checks and balances 
in our system.
  Mr. President, it is my pleasure as a Senator from Connecticut to 
welcome the occupant of the chair as a new Member of the Senate. 
Perhaps you have observed from your viewing of the Senate before you 
arrived here that our problem seems not to have been that things move 
through this institution too quickly, that we hastily trample upon the 
rights of the minority. The problem, if anything--and it is not a bad 
problem and it does carry out the intention and will of the Framers--is 
that there are a lot of checks and balances here, and it is often hard 
to do the people's business and respond to the people's needs, and the 
filibuster has made it even harder to do so.
  So I thank the Chair and the Senate for their indulgence. I 
congratulate again my colleague from Iowa for initiating this 
forthright and, in its way, courageous attempt to change the status 
quo, and I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.
  Mr. HARKIN. Before the Senator yields the floor, will the Senator 
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. I would certainly yield the floor to my friend from 
  Mr. HARKIN. I thank my colleague and good friend from Connecticut for 
his support, his involvement, and his help in the drafting of this 
amendment and putting it together. The Senator from Connecticut is one 
of those who stood in the well today and took his oath of office for 
the second time. The Senator from Connecticut, I think I can say 
without any fear of being in error, in his entire first term in the 
Senate was recognized for his constant effort to provide for reform, 
for change in the way this place operates to make it more open, to make 
us more accountable, and to ensure that the people of Connecticut, 
indeed the people of the United States, have the right to insist that 
Senators vote on the merits of legislation. So the Senator is not a 
newcomer to congressional reform and to making this body operate more 
effectively and efficiently. I congratulate the people of Connecticut 
for their wisdom in returning him to this body.
  I thank the Senator very much for his support of this measure. As the 
Senator so wisely said, any time that the rules have been changed on 
the filibuster in the past, it has sometimes taken a great deal of time 
and effort. We will persevere in this effort because we believe it is 
the right course for the American people. But I believe by the changes 
that were made in November, the big changes that were made, the 
American people were sending us a very powerful message, and I believe, 
if we do not do something about this dinosaur, we are going to be 
involved in another couple of years of frustration.
  So I just wanted to thank the Senator for his support, for his 
involvement, for his help in the drafting of this amendment, and I 
thank him for his 6 years of efforts to make the Senate a more 
responsive and responsible body.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I thank my friend and colleague from 
Iowa for his kind words. I would just say to him that it is really an 
honor to begin this session by being his partner in this effort that I 
think is really at the heart of making the Senate a more responsive 
  I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.
  Mr. BYRD addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia is recognized.
  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, before the distinguished Senator from 
Connecticut leaves the floor--and I know he must depart soon; he has 
someone waiting on him--my concern is that in an effort to kill this 
so-called dinosaur we are really taking a sledge hammer to kill a 
beetle, small beetle.
  [[Page S38]] I agree with the Senators that the rule has been abused. 
Would the Senators agree with me that, in the abuse of this rule, it 
has been most abused in preventing, or attempting to prevent, the 
taking up of a measure or matter or nomination? Would the Senators 
agree with me on that?
  The able Senator from Iowa cited the number of times that the 
``filibuster'' was resorted to last year, or in the last session of 
Congress or in the last Congress, the 103d Congress, and I have a 
feeling that most of those instances to which he alluded were instances 
in which the effort was being made to proceed to take up a measure or 
matter or nomination and there was the threat of a filibuster at least 
which perhaps had some impact on the taking up of the measure.
  Would the Senators agree that it is there, in the taking up of a 
measure, that the real problem lies, or at least that that has been our 
experience in recent months and years, not so much after the Senate is 
on a matter or measure or nomination but proceeding to the matter? 
Would the Senators agree?
  Mr. HARKIN. I do not know if the question is directed to both of us, 
but if I might respond----
  Mr. BYRD. I ask unanimous consent that I may ask this question and 
retain my rights to the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. HARKIN. I respond to the Senator by saying that that has been a 
problem. But I would also note that last year there were three or four 
instances--I am a little unclear--of when the filibuster was used on 
disagreeing with amendments of the House, appointing conferees, and 
insisting on Senate amendments. That can also be filibustered.
  Mr. BYRD. But wouldn't----
  Mr. HARKIN. Even after the whole measure has been passed.
  Mr. BYRD. Would not the Senator agree that filibusters used in such 
instances as he has just related here are not the filibusters which 
have caused the Senate the problems of abuse which most Senators and I 
perceive as being problems? Do the Senators not agree if real problems 
have arisen--if there have been real problems, and assuming that there 
have been, assuming that what we call filibusters were really 
filibusters on motions to proceed--would the Senators not agree that on 
motions to proceed most of these filibusters, so-called filibusters, 
have occurred?
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, if I may respond to the distinguished 
Senator from West Virginia, it is true--and I do not have the 
statistics in front of me, but my recollection tells me that a good 
number of the filibusters that have occurred have occurred on the 
motion to proceed. But it is my opinion that the fact that many 
filibusters occurred on the motion to proceed does not encourage or 
lead to the conclusion that the problem is the motion to proceed. The 
filibusters have occurred on the motion to proceed because that has 
generally been the first opportunity that opponents of a measure have 
had to filibuster. The fact that a measure can be blocked by conducting 
a filibuster of the motion to proceed, of course, makes it even more 
frustrating. The very attempt to proceed to a matter of legislation or 
a nomination can be filibustered before the Senate even gets to the 
substance of it, but breaking the filibuster of the motion to proceed 
does not eliminate the threat of a filibuster of the bill itself.
  This Senator can remember at least one example which makes the point 
that I am trying to make. On product liability reform, my recollection 
is that in the 102d Congress the filibuster occurred on the motion to 
proceed and cloture could not be obtained. In the 103d Congress, 
because of changes of attitude, because of changes of the membership of 
the Senate, because a number of Members of the Chamber had committed to 
at least let the Chamber get to the substance, it was apparent that the 
filibuster of the motion to proceed would be broken, that cloture would 
be granted. But then a filibuster did begin on the bill itself, after 
the motion to proceed was granted, and that filibuster was again 
successful in blocking the will of the majority.
  So I would most respectfully say to the Senator from West Virginia 
that it does seem to me that, though the filibuster has been more 
frequently a problem on the motion to proceed, the problem is the 
filibuster. And if once the opponents of a measure, a minority, are not 
successful and let the motion to proceed be agreed to, then this 
minority has the right to frustrate the will of the majority on the 
substance of the matter once it comes before the Chamber.
  Mr. BYRD. Well, Mr. President, I want to protect the right of the 
minority on a matter of substance in particular. But do the Senators 
not agree that most of the cloture motions that have been laid down by 
the majority leader in the past few years have been laid down on 
motions to proceed? Would the Senators not agree to that?
  Mr. HARKIN. I would agree to that. I would agree, I think--and I have 
a table here on that--and the Senator is right.
  Mr. BYRD. All right.
  Mr. HARKIN. Most of them have been on motions to proceed.
  Mr. BYRD. I thank the Senator.
  Now, before the Senator leaves the floor, why do we want to use this 
cloture--why do we want to use this sledgehammer to eliminate the 
potential filibuster on a motion to proceed? That is where the problem 
has arisen. Our friends--now in the majority, then in the minority--
objected to the taking up of measures. Consequently the majority leader 
put in a cloture motion; 2 days later the vote occurred.
  Now if, as the Senator from Iowa has stated, it is true that most of 
the so-called filibusters, I say so-called because--I will explain that 
further in a moment--so-called filibusters have occurred on motions to 
proceed, and the Senator from Iowa says that is the case, if that is 
true, then we do not need this. We do not need this. We do not need to 
kill the opportunity for unlimited debate in order to get at that. Have 
the Senators read rule VIII, paragraph 2, of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate? Here is what it says. ``All motions made during the first two 
hours of a new legislative day to proceed to the consideration of any 
matter''--any matter except a motion to change the rules, any matter--
``shall be determined without debate.''
  Let me read that again for the edification of all Senators and all 
who are listening. Here in the Senate rules, paragraph 2, rule VIII.

       All motions made during the first two hours of a new 
     legislative day to proceed to the consideration of any matter 
     shall be determined without debate, except motions to proceed 
     to the consideration of any motion, resolution, or proposal 
     to change any of the Standing Rules of the Senate shall be 
     debatable. Motions made after the first two hours of a new 
     legislative day to proceed to the consideration of bills and 
     resolutions are debatable.

  Now here it is in plain, unmistakable language in the Senate rules, 
rule VIII, that a motion to proceed to take up a matter other than a 
rules change during the first 2 hours of a new legislative day shall be 
determined without debate. There you are. Why does not a majority 
leader use rule VIII? It is here. It has been here all the time.
  Mr. President, I was majority leader and I was the Secretary of the 
Democratic Conference, beginning in 1967, for 4 years. I sat on this 
floor and did Mr. Mansfield's floor work for him as Secretary of the 
Democratic Conference. And beginning in 1971 I sat on this floor as 
Democratic whip and did Mr. Mansfield's floor work for him. He was the 
majority leader.
  And in 1977 I was elected majority leader. I was elected majority 
leader for 2 years and then reelected in 1979 for 2 years. Then the 
Republicans took over the control of the Senate after the 1980 
election. I was minority leader for 6 years. Then I became majority 
leader again for 2 years, the 100th Congress. That rule was there all 
the time that I was leader. I never had any big problems.
  I will tell you, rules VII and VIII, I believe, have, if it is 
researched, if it is researched by the Journal clerk--I have a feeling 
that rules VII and VIII have not been used since I was majority leader. 
Rules VII and VIII have not been used since I was majority leader. I 
think that is correct, unless it happened one day when I was in a 
committee meeting and was not aware of what was going on on the floor. 
I will say this as a former majority leader and as a former minority 
leader. I will say that it is sometimes difficult. But the rule is 
there which allows for a motion to proceed, a nondebatable motion to 
[[Page S39]] proceed. And I have used it. I have used it. I have used 
it when our Republican friends did not want to take up something. I 
used that rule.
  Mr. HARKIN. Will the Senator yield?
  Mr. BYRD. Let me just complete my thought and then I will be glad to 
  A majority leader has enormous power when it comes to the schedule of 
the Senate, the scheduling of bills and resolutions, and the 
programming of the Senate schedule. The majority leader has first 
recognition power and that is a big arrow in his arsenal.
  He has the power of first recognition. Nobody can get recognition 
before the majority leader. If he has the power of first recognition, 
then he can make a motion that is nondebatable. He can sit down if he 
wants to. If someone wants to put in a quorum call, that is OK. Let the 
quorums chew up the rest of the 2 hours. That motion is in there. That 
nondebatable motion is still pending before the Senate after that 2 
hours. At least that is the way I recall it. But there is a 
nondebatable motion. Why has not rule VII or VIII been used?
  So we have had all of these motions to proceed. The Republicans 
objected. Then we slapped in cloture motions. That has been called a 
filibuster. There is no filibuster. That is a threat to filibuster. But 
again, the majority leader has the power to go to something else. Once 
that cloture motion is in, he does not have to waste 2 days. He has the 
power to go to something else, take up something else. And then 2 days 
later the cloture motion ripens and you vote on that cloture motion. It 
does not mean that we have been losing time. We just moved on to 
another measure in the meantime.
  So I say to my friends before we get all steamed up and start 
referring to something around here as a leviathan, dragon, or a big 
lizard, whatever, let us read the rules and see what we all have here. 
And let us use them. I will be glad to yield.
  Mr. HARKIN. I thank the Senator for yielding.
  I asked my staff. It was either last year or the year before when I 
first started getting involved in this that I then came to the majority 
leader, Mr. Mitchell, with that same proposal because I am trying to 
remember the bill we were trying to get up that was being filibustered. 
I had checked on this legislative day. The response that I got was what 
difference does it make? If we are going to filibuster, we might as 
well do it on a motion to proceed as anything else. It does not make 
any difference.
  In other words, there are six hurdles. There is the motion to 
proceed. There is the bill, disagreement with the House, insist on 
amendments, appoint conferees--there are six when we get over there. 
The Senator from West Virginia says we take down the first rule. It 
still leaves five rules. Every one of those can be filibustered and we 
are right back in the same stew again. I believe that is why rule VIII 
is not used more often because it does not really make much difference.
  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, it makes a lot of difference. We so 
programmed ourselves around here that we get unanimous consent. And I 
started a lot of it. So I cannot wash my hands and walk away. I did a 
lot of this programming myself; program the next day; morning business. 
I daresay that half of the Senators do not know what morning business 
is. They do not know the difference between the morning hour and 
morning business.
  I do not mean to cast aspersions on them. But I hear a lot of 
Senators talking about how we should change the rules. They do not know 
the rules. They do not know the rules. They think morning business is a 
period when there is a period for speeches. Morning business is not a 
period for speeches. Under rules VII and VIII, speeches are not to be 
made in morning business. Morning business is a period for the offering 
of petitions and memorials and bills and resolutions and so forth, but 
no speeches. A lot of Senators think, well, morning business. I would 
imagine if they went out to a high school or a college and answered 
some questions on the Senate rules, they would talk about morning 
business, that is the time you make speeches. Morning business is not a 
time for speeches.
  So we get consent, not that there be a limitation on speeches in 
morning business because there are not supposed to be any speeches, but 
that Senators be permitted to speak in morning business for not to 
  I say all of that to say this, Mr. President. The rule is here. I 
daresay that if Mr. Dole gets a notion to call up a measure he will 
probably resort to paragraph 2, rule VIII and he may go back to using 
rules VII and VIII. I hope we will. I do not want to see these rules 
atrophy from misuse. The Senate is being programmed too much. As I say, 
I guess I started some of it. But it has gone too far.
  Here are the rules. The majority leader has all of his power of first 
recognition. Any majority leader can find a way to make a motion during 
the first 2 hours of a new legislative day. A lot of Senators do not 
know what that means--new legislative day. They probably do not know 
the difference between a legislative day and a calendar day. I do not 
want to be unfair to my colleagues. But they have other things to do, 
things that there are headlines in, votes to be made back home. Who 
wants to fool with these old Senate rules? It is not interesting 
reading. It will not compare with Milton, Dante, Roman history or the 
history of England. This is dry reading. Who wants to fool around and 
spend their hours reading these old dry rules? No headlines are made.
  So I hope that we will start using rules VII and VIII. I think 
Senators would get over here then and use the 5-minute rule and speak 
on matters more often.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Will the Senator yield?
  Mr. BYRD. Yes. I ask that I retain my right to the floor, not that I 
think anyone is going to try to take it away from me.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. I thank the distinguished Senator from West Virginia. 
There is no better not only student but teacher of the rules who 
understands the rules better than the Senator from West Virginia. I 
respect him greatly for that.
  I would make this point and I do think the Senator has made an 
important point in saying that the problem of the filibuster, to use 
the term we have been using and perhaps in some measure agreeing on it, 
the misuse of the filibuster has arisen most frequently on the motion 
to proceed. I must say that if there was a way that the Chamber could 
limit or eliminate the opportunity to filibuster on the motion to 
proceed I would certainly consider that to be a step forward--to put it 
in a more clear way, if I may, a step toward diminishing the misuse of 
the power of the filibuster. But it does seem to me that the problem 
here has arisen most frequently on the motion to proceed but the 
problem remains the filibuster which is the ability in this Senator's 
opinion of a minority to frustrate the will of 51 Members of this 
Senate to represent their constituents and get something done. It has 
arisen most frequently on the motion to proceed because that is the 
first time it could arise.
  My friend and colleague from Iowa has talked about the six occasions 
in which in the consideration of a typical matter here in the Senate a 
filibuster could occur. In fact, if one considered amendments and the 
opportunity to filibuster amendments, there are even more than six. But 
let us talk about the six. It is as if there were six hurdles or six 
obstacles on the passage of a measure. And it is true that the first 
hurdle is the motion to proceed. So the filibuster has arisen most 
often on that because it is the first hurdle. If we eliminated that 
hurdle, I would say that would be a step toward eliminating or 
diminishing the misuse. But the fact other hurdles would remain and 
would be there is an opportunity to frustrate the will of the majority 
and to bring gridlock.
  I say that with great respect for my distinguished colleague from 
West Virginia. I thank him for yielding the floor.
  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I have great respect for both Senators. I 
have great admiration for them. Mr. Harkin serves on my Appropriations 
Committee. He has his heart in this matter.
 But as one who has been a leader of the majority and the leader of the 
party when in the minority, I can say to my friends that the majority 
leader, whose job it is and responsibility it is to bring up matters--
that is not the responsibil- 
[[Page S40]] ity of the minority leader--the majority leader, with his 
power of first recognition, with his majority votes to back him up on 
most measures, certainly on taking up measures, he can get measures up. 
There might come an occasion now and then in the effort to proceed to 
take up something when he would have to use cloture. That is all right. 
I used it a few times, too. But that has been the problem, as I have 
observed it here in recent years, the ``filibuster,'' because it really 
was not a filibuster. It was the failure to give consent to take up a 
matter. Consent is needed to take up a matter, except on a motion. So 
if we can ask unanimous consent to take up a matter, to proceed to a 
matter, any one Senator can object, and that may appear to be a 
filibuster. That may appear to be a threat of a filibuster.
  Well, a majority leader can call that threat. He does not have to 
roll over and play dead. Time and time again--do not worry about these 
holds, do not worry about them. I have heard that argument. Senators 
have holds on things. We ought to stop that. Well, when I was leader, I 
recognized a hold only for a time, and many Senators have placed a hold 
on a piece of legislation just so they can be notified when that piece 
of legislation is about to come up. They want to be notified. They do 
not want it to be taken up without their being consulted.
  I never tolerated a hold; I never allowed any hold to keep me from 
attempting to take up a measure. If someone had a hold on a nomination, 
I would go to the Republican leader and I would say: You better tell 
Senator So and So that I am going to move to take up that nomination. I 
hope he will give me consent, but if he does not and I see he has had a 
hold 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or a month, or whatever it is, then I am going 
to move, and the hold would break. If it did not, we just moved to take 
it up.
  So, Mr. President, to those, especially inside the Senate, who do not 
understand, I cannot blame the people on the outside for not 
understanding. I can understand how editors of the newspapers around 
the country might not understand when Senators themselves do not 
understand. We have a rule here that allows taking up a measure without 
  Let me say that I hope the Republican leader will resort to rule VIII 
once in a while, if for nothing else but to recall to all of us that it 
is in the rule book.
  (Mr. GORTON assumed the chair.)
  Mr. HARKIN. Will the Senator yield?
  Mr. BYRD. Yes, I will yield for a question.
  Mr. HARKIN. This is very instructive to me, also. As the Senator from 
Connecticut said, there is no one who knows his rules better and more 
in depth than the Senator from West Virginia. I like this debate 
because I am learning from him.
  I have to have something cleared up for me, if the Senator would be 
so kind. Let us assume that the majority leader does use rule VIII to 
bring up a motion to proceed, which then would not be debatable; let us 
say that I was opposed to the measure, and say I had two or three other 
people opposed to the measure that indicated we were going to 
filibuster the motion to proceed. So the majority leader says: We will 
get around Harkin; we will bring it up under rule VIII. There is 
nothing I can do about it. It is nondebatable. But what is to prevent 
me from saying when the bill comes up we will filibuster it now?
  Mr. BYRD. Sure, that is all right. A minority ought to have a right 
somewhere to debate and to resort to unlimited debate. There are two 
things that make the Senate, two things in particular, aside from the 
Senate's judicial powers, its executive powers, and its investigative 
powers; there are two things that make it the premier upper body in the 
world. One is the right to amend. The Constitution gives it that right 
to amend, even on revenue bills which originate in the House. The other 
factor is the right of unlimited debate.
  I sought to get the campaign financing reform measure up in the 100th 
Congress, in 1987, and our Republican friends would not give me a 
unanimous consent to take it up. So one day--I am getting to the point 
the Senator raised--I said to the Republican leader, when I had the 
floor: I wonder if the leader would give me consent to proceed to the 
consideration of whatever the bill number was, the campaign financing 
reform bill. He said: I do not think so; I think we want to talk a 
while about that. I said: Well, I wish the Senator would let me take 
this up. He said: Well, Senator McConnell might want to talk about it. 
I said: Right there he is; ask him. The Republican leader asked Senator 
McConnell, and he said Senator McConnell wanted to talk.
  Well, Mr. President, I was in a position right then to move to take 
that bill up, and it is a nondebatable motion. You see, it was a new 
legislative day, and it was during that 2 hours. I am now in a position 
to move. I said: So, Mr. Leader, if you give me unanimous consent, we 
will save 15 minutes, or if you will not give me unanimous consent, we 
will just vote right now, and we will vote up or down. He said: Well, 
give me a few minutes to talk with my colleagues. I said: Sure, how 
much time you want? He said: Oh, 20, 30 minutes. I said: Mr. President, 
I ask unanimous consent that the Senate stand in recess for 30 minutes 
and that I be recognized at the reconvening of the Senate, and at that 
point no time be charged against the recess, and that I retain my 
rights at that point as of the status quo. We recessed for 30 minutes 
and went out and Mr. Dole came back and said: OK, we will give you 
consent. Then they filibustered the measure.
  I offered a cloture motion eight times--more than any majority leader 
has ever offered on any measure. Unlike Robert Bruce, who succeeded on 
the seventh time after he had seen that spider spin his web, I failed 
eight times. Do you think I was frustrated? Of course I was. But they 
had a right. They were exercising their rights. They were in the 
minority, but a minority can be right. A minority can be right. So I 
have always defended the rights of the minority, whether I was in the 
majority or minority, because I also remember that we can be in the 
minority--and we are now. I remember, too, that this is not a 
  With 260 million people, would anybody stand up and claim that this 
could be a democracy? This is a Republic. It is a representative 
democracy. The people speak through their elected representatives. So a 
minority may be over there or may be over here on a given measure, or a 
minority may be a combined minority. But that minority may represent a 
majority of the people. That is the purpose. That is why unlimited 
debate is something we should never, never give away--unlimited debate; 
right of unlimited debate.
  I have been in the House of Representatives. I have been in the House 
of Representatives before I came here. I do not want to make the Senate 
a second House of Representatives. There is a place for both in the 
constitutional scheme. Each has its role to play in its own proper 
sphere. The Senate ought not change its role.
  I may want to filibuster, to use the word. I may want to use it 
someday to protect poor little West Virginia and her rights. This is 
the forum of the States. We are here to represent States. And the State 
of West Virginia, the State of Iowa, the State of Kentucky, the State 
of Mississippi, each of these States is equal to the great State of 
California with its 30-odd million--equal. We speak for the States, and 
it is the only forum in the Government in which the States are equally 
represented--equally represented.
  Now, if we do not have the right for unlimited debate, these poor 
little old States like West Virginia, they will be trampled underfoot. 
We have three votes in the House. Now in the House, we had six votes. 
Now we have half that many in the House, three votes.
  Mr. President, we had better stop, look, and listen before we give 
away this right of unlimited debate. What is wrong with using the 
rules? My friends did not like it. I did not like it when Mr. Dole used 
the rules on me when he was in the majority. I did not like it, but I 
said he has a right to do it; he is playing by the rules.
  Mr. President, I came prepared to speak not long, but let me say a 
few words in accordance with what I had planned.
  The filibuster has become a target for rebuke in this efficiency-
[[Page S41]] age in which we live. We have instant coffee, instant 
potatoes to mix, instant this and instant that. So everything must be 
done in an instant; must be done in a hurry.
  I lived in an earlier age. I remember when Lindbergh flew across the 
ocean in a plane that carried a 5,500-pound load. He had five 
sandwiches. He ate one and one-half of them on his way. He flew 3,600 
miles in 33\1/2\ hours, sometimes 10 feet above water, sometimes 10,000 
feet. Crowds gathered to see him off; crowds gathered in Paris to see 
him land.
  He flew over Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, at the great speed of 100 
miles an hour. That is what the New York Times said. That is the paper 
that prints everything there is fit to print. I wish other newspapers 
would follow that same rule. Great speed. Flew over at great speed, it 
said--100 miles an hour.
  John Glenn went around the Earth, I would assume, at a speed of 
something like, I would imagine, as I recall he traveled around the 
Earth in about 80 minutes, something like that. That would be what? 
Eighteen thousand miles an hour.
  Anyhow, everything has to be done in a hurry. We have to bring 
efficiency to this Senate. That was not what the Framers had in mind.
  Recently, much of the talk of abolishing filibusters was coming from 
the other body, but apparently the criticism has begun to seep in the 
Senate Chamber, as well.
  The filibuster is one of the easier targets in this town. It does not 
take much imagination to decry long-winded speeches and to deplore 
delay by a small number of determined zealots as getting in the way of 
the greater good.
  It does, however, take more than a little thought to understand the 
true purpose of the tactic known as filibustering and to appreciate its 
historic importance in protecting the viewpoint of the minority.
  In many ways, the filibuster is the single most important device ever 
employed to ensure that the Senate remains truly the unique protector 
of the rights of the people that it has been throughout our history.
  I believe that it is always worthwhile to try to educate the public 
and hopefully any new Members who have not yet fully grasped the noble 
purpose fulfilled by this much maligned exercise known as the Senate 
  Mr. President, let it be clearly understood that I favor a change in 
the filibuster rule. I will eliminate filibusters on the motion to 
proceed to take up a measure or matter other than a matter affecting a 
rules change. I would favor changing the rules to provide that there be 
a motion to proceed limited to 2 hours of debate or 1 hour of debate. I 
have no problem with that. Because that to me appears to have been, the 
last few years, where the real abuse has lain, real abuse of the rule. 
If we eliminate that, Senators should retain full rights to debate at 
any length the measure or matter, once the Senate has proceeded to take 
it up.
  So let us have that change in the rules. That will get rid of most of 
the so-called filibusters.
  A lot of these are not really filibusters. What is involved is a 
motion to proceed. Because unanimous consent could not be gotten to 
take up the matter, one Senator or two Senators were objecting, so the 
motion to proceed was made and then immediately a cloture motion was 
laid down.
  Now, that cloture rule came as a result of real filibusters, and what 
was perceived at that time as an abuse of unlimited debate. That is why 
the cloture rule was created in 1917.
  As the Senator has appropriately pointed out--and I have listened to 
him carefully and he has revealed to me that he has read a great deal 
of history concerning these rules--may I say to the Senator that I have 
likewise read a great deal of it. I have likewise written a great deal 
on it, and I have likewise experienced the use of it and experienced 
dealing with it as majority leader, as minority leader, as whip, and as 
secretary of the Democratic conference.
  Mr. HARKIN. Senator, much of the history I have read.
  Mr. BYRD. I could tell that just by listening. And I compliment the 
  By the way, all of this section here, ``The Filibuster 1789-1917,'' I 
read the old Congressional Records. I went through the old 
Congressional Record. I read those debates by Benjamin Tillman. I read 
them. I did the footnoting in this book. I did not have a staffer do 
that footnoting. I did it. I read those Congressional Records.
  And so I have read the history. And I have helped to make a lot of 
the history. And I have helped to write a lot. And I feel very deeply 
that as long as we have a Senate in which there is unlimited debate, 
the liberties of the American people will always be protected. I think 
that we change that rule at our peril, and at the peril of the 
liberties of the American people.
  One of the filibuster, so-called filibuster, is of ancient origin. 
Cato ordered a filibuster. Cato the Younger. His sister married Brutus. 
Marcus Junius Brutus. Cato the Younger. He committed suicide in the 
year 46, 46 B.C., after he had heard that Caesar has won the battle of 
Thapsus. He committed suicide. Cato. Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis 
committed suicide. He admonished all of his men, the officers in his 
military, to leave Utica because Caesar was approaching. He admonished 
his son to give himself over to Caesar. Cato himself did none of these 
things. He elected to read Plato's book on the soul. Phaedo. And after 
he had read that book, his friends had taken his sword from beneath his 
pillow, fearful he might use it against himself. And he asked them to 
send it back. And a little boy came carrying the sword back into the 
room. Cato felt of its point, felt of its edge, said, ``Now, I am 
master of myself.'' And a little later he plunged it into his abdomen. 
Cato. We need more Catos in the Senate.
  The Cato in the year 60 B.C. resorted to a filibuster. Caesar wanted 
to stand as a candidate for counsel. He had to be in the city to do 
that. He also wanted to be rewarded a triumph for his victories in 
Spain. For that he had to be on the outside of the city and come in a 
triumph. He had to give up one or the other, but his friends in the 
Senate sought to introduce legislation that would allow him to stand as 
the candidate while on the outside of the city, but Cato, and I say it 
in here better, ``Cato spun out the hours by speaking until the Sun 
went down.'' In the Roman Senate, Sun went down, that was the end of 
the session. So he spun out the day talking until the Senate adjourned. 
And so we see a successful filibuster occurs in the Roman Senate 2055 
years ago. Not bad. 2055 years ago. So, it is a matter of ancient 
  Did the Senator want me to yield?
  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I was just fascinated by listening to the 
history lesson is all.
  Mr. BYRD. I ask unanimous consent that I may yield for a statement, 
if the Senator wishes to make it, without losing my right to the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection.
  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator. It is always 
instructive to engage in the debates with the Senator from West 
Virginia who is a great student of Roman history. I have always enjoyed 
listening to him tell about the different Roman battles. Always very 
instructive. I am not a student of Roman history at all and do not 
pretend to be. I find it fascinating.
  I tend to think that we in our great American experiment embarked 
upon something quite different perhaps than what the Roman Senate was. 
I think our roots, again, go back to the Magna Carta, the great charter 
of King John, and to the parliamentary procedures of Great Britain, of 
  In 1604 the Parliament of Great Britain adopted what was then known 
as a motion for the previous question to bring to finality debate and 
to move to the merits of the proposition. That was in 1604. When our 
Constitution, and I pose this in a manner of a question to the Senator 
from West Virginia because this is another branch of the argument on 
the filibuster, sort of the branch that I had been arguing on is the 
basis that a filibuster ought to be used to slow down, temper 
legislation, alert the public, change minds, but should not be used as 
a measure whereby a small minority can totally keep the majority from 
voting on the merits of a bill. That is one branch.
  The other branch is the constitutional branch. The Senator from West 
Virginia said that we, at our peril, I believe, give up this right of 
[[Page S42]] debate. From whence does this right spring? It is not 
mentioned in the Constitution. At least I cannot find it in the 
  In fact, the Constitution, article I, section 3, outlines what the 
Senate shall be. Two Senators from each State chosen by the 
legislature, which was changed by the 18th amendment and made Senators 
popularly elected, goes on to tell what Senators do. They each get a 
vote. The Vice President will be President of the Senate but will have 
no vote unless they be equally divided. Then it goes on to tell all of 
the different cases wherein there has to be more than a majority vote. 
Five cases.
  I postulate a question to the Senator from West Virginia. Let us 
suppose that an election were held and 90 Members of the Senate were 
elected from one party; let us say that those 90 Members then decided 
that they were going to change the rules of the Senate. And they did 
change the rules of the Senate.
  And then they put in the Senate a rule that said that no changes in 
the rules could be done unless 90 percent agreed. Not two-thirds, but 
90 would have to agree to change the rules, and that 90 Senators would 
have to reach that agreement. It probably would never happen again, 90 
Members of the same party, but then that rule would go on in 
perpetuity. So then does that not lead to a possibility of a Senate 
setting up a supermajority that completely does away with the will of 
the majority to enact legislation? It sort of is an extension, and it 
is the extreme of what we have here, I think, with a filibuster.
  So I ask the Senator, from whence does this right spring of this 
unlimited debate? I find it not in the Constitution.
  Mr. BYRD. The right of freedom of speech was publicly accorded to 
both Commons and the House of Lords by Henry V in 1407. He reigned from 
1399 to 1413. He publicly declared that the Commons, members of both 
Houses of Parliament, had the right to speak and speak without any fear 
of being challenged in any other place. That right was written into the 
English Bill of Rights, article 9--the English Bill of Rights, which 
was enacted in December 1689.
  William III and Mary were offered the joint sovereignty by Commoners, 
the House of Commons, when James II, just before he left England and 
went to the court of France, never to return to England, they offered 
to William and Mary the joint sovereignty. And in early 1689, William 
and Mary were crowned joint sovereigns. But first of all they had to 
agree to a Bill of Rights. And in that Bill of Rights, in the nineth 
article, there is a provision that members of Parliament should not be 
questioned in any place but Parliament. And in our own Constitution, 
article I, section 6, we find virtually the same language, no Member of 
either House may be questioned in any other place, or anything said in 
debate, so on and so on.
  So there was the right of freedom of speech. Our English forebears 
recognized that important right, and they wrote it into the Bill of 
Rights, the English Bill of Rights. And our Constitution forebears, who 
knew much about the English struggle, who knew much about Roman 
history, who knew much about Montesquieu and Hobbs and Moore and all of 
the other great philosophers, they wrote it into our Constitution.
  We have freedom of speech. The Roman Senate, under the Republic, 
which lasted from 509 B.C. up to the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C., the 
Roman Republic had freedom of speech in the Senate, and there was a 
check on freedom of speech on the length of speeches first instituted 
by Augustus--Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, given the title of 
Augustus by an innervated Roman Senate that had lost its nerve, lost 
its vision and lost its way. Augustus finally put an end to this 
business of freedom of speech in the Senate. He reigned from 27 B.C. to 
14 A.D.
  So it has its roots in antiquity. It is a property, yeah; it is far 
more than a property, it is a right that is cherished by free men: The 
right of freedom of debate.
  Take away that right and you take away my liberties. You take away my 
right of freedom of debate as an elected representative of the people, 
and you take away their liberties. It is a right that Englishmen have 
known for centuries for which they struggled against monarchs.
  The Senate, as the Senator pointed out early today, first started out 
with the previous question in the Senate. That was discarded. Aaron 
Burr, when he made that great speech after he had murdered Alexander 
Hamilton in Weehawken, NJ, and had presided over the Senate trial of 
Samuel Chase, I believe it was, made a speech to the Senate, his last 
speech before he went out the door for the last time, and he 
recommended that the Senate do away with the previous question.
  So we have had unlimited debate in the Senate now for 200 years, and 
surely with 200 years of trial and testing, we should know by now it is 
something to be prized beyond measure.
  And so it is not a matter of pride and prerogative and privilege and 
power with this Senator. It is a matter not only of protecting this 
institution, it is a matter of protecting the liberties of free men 
under our Constitution. And as long as I can stand on this floor and 
speak, I can protect the liberties of my people. If I abuse the power 
by threatening to filibuster on motions to proceed, take away that 
power of mine to abuse. Let us change the rule and allow a motion to 
proceed under a debate limitation of 2 hours, 1 hour, or whatever, 
except on motions to proceed to a rules change. I am for that.
  And so by doing that, the Senator will have performed a great 
service. He will have eliminated--he will have eliminated--the source 
of the irritations and aggravations that have permeated through this 
body over the last few years of most of those so-called filibusters.
  They were not filibusters. They were simply motions to take up a 
matter that were objected to and immediately a cloture motion being 
thrown down. That cloture motion was created to shut off debates on 
filibusters. And yet the cloture motion was used to get a vote on a 
motion to proceed.
  So I think it has been blown out of proportion a great deal, but I 
agree that that rule has been abused to that extent. I have said that 
continued abuse of that rule will result in taking away the right of 
Senators to have unlimited debate. I see that danger. And I am trying 
to protect against that danger. So I would agree that we make that kind 
of rules change.
  As far as I am concerned, we could go back to the two-thirds rule 
rather than the three-fifths--two-thirds of those present and voting. 
That would ensure that Senators come to the floor and vote. Where we 
have 60 votes, 39 or 40 can leave town. The other side has to produce 
60 votes.
  So if the Senate wanted to change it back to two-thirds of those 
present and voting, fine. As he pointed out directly, the present rule 
was reached through compromise, those who thought the two-thirds too 
difficult and those who thought that a majority was not enough, so we 
arrived at the present rule. But I am not unalterably against change if 
it is change for what I see would be for the better. I think that would 
be for the better. But I am against change, I am against emasculating 
the filibuster rule.
  In the ``Lady of the Lake,'' I guess it was Fitz-James who said;

       Come one, come all. This rock shall fly
       From its firm base as soon as I.

  That is the way I feel about the filibuster:

       Come one, come all. This rock shall fly
       From its firm base as soon as I.

  So it is not a matter of power and privilege and prerogative, as the 
Senator has said, and pride. It is a matter of pride in this 
institution with me. That is where the pride is, pride in this 
institution and pride in the Constitution.
  I wish Senators would develop an institutional memory. Stop coming 
over here from the House of Representatives and immediately trying to 
make this a second House of Representatives. The Senate was created for 
a purpose in the minds of those great framers. And the test of time has 
proved that they were right and that they were wise.
  I had intended to read several chapters from my book, volume two, but 
I have enjoyed the exchange with my friends to the extent that I feel 
no need of proceeding as I had earlier intended.
  Let me just call attention to my book--and I get no royalties on 
[[Page S43]] book--``The Senate, 1789-1989, Addresses on the History of 
the Senate.'' This is volume two. Volume two is the Senator's copy. 
Volume one was a chronological history of the U.S. Senate. A history of 
the United States Senate is American history. But volume two I intended 
for Senators to read.
  What is in it? Well, there are chapters on treaties, and on 
impeachment trials, and on other matters that are fairly unique to the 
Senate. I hope Senators will read my chapter on impeachment trials. 
Some Senators who claim to be lawyers cannot, really cannot, get away 
from the idea that they are still in a courtroom and that an 
impeachment trial is a trial in the sense of a civil or criminal trial 
that is being tried in a court of law.
  I hope that Senators who listen tonight and those who read will take 
me up on that and go back and read my chapter on impeachment trials 
because there will be some more impeachment trials as time comes on. 
And I have chapters on committees, on the various officers of the 
  But in this respect which we are now discussing, I would suggest they 
begin on page 93, chapter 5, titled ``Extended Debate, Filibusters, 
1789 to 1917.'' There they will find written down the instance to which 
I earlier referred when Plutarch reported that Cato opposed Caesar's 
request and ``attempted to prevent his success by gaining time; with 
which views he spun out the debate till it was too late to conclude 
upon any thing that day.''
  So that was that successful filibuster 2,055 years ago.
  Then this gives the history of filibusters when filibusters were real 
filibusters, as Mr. Harkin stated earlier. Back in the 19th century, 
they had real filibusters, and in the early part of this century. And 
there have been some real ones since I have been in the Senate, real in 
the sense that it took days and days and days to reach a decision. And 
the debate was germane, at least during the filibusters that I 
experienced in the Senate.
  I mentioned three in particular. The civil rights debate, 1964. I was 
not a leader at that time, but I participated in that debate. I spoke 
14 hours and 13 minutes during that debate. That was a bill that was 
before the Senate for a total of 77 days including Saturdays, Sundays, 
and holidays. It was actually debated 57 days, 6 of which were 
Saturdays. We have had some real filibusters. Still the bill was not 
passed until 9 days after cloture was voted. Hence, 103 days had passed 
between March 9 when the motion was made to take up the bill and final 
passage on June 19.
  Now, this was the civil rights filibuster. Then there was a 
filibuster on the natural gas bill, in 1977 I believe it was. And then 
I speak of the filibuster that occurred on the campaign financing 
reform bill, 1987 and 1988. That spread across a period of 2 years.
  So I have seen filibusters. I have helped to break them. There are 
few Senators in this body who were here when I broke the filibuster on 
the natural gas bill. Two Senators, Senator Metzenbaum and former 
Senator Abourezk, tied up the Senate for 13 days and 1 night--I believe 
it was 13 days and 1 night--and in that time we had disposed of a half-
dozen amendments. So I asked Mr. Mondale, the Vice President, to go 
please sit in the chair; I wanted to make some points of order and 
create some new precedents that would break these filibusters.
  So he got in the chair, and Howard Baker and I, working together, 
propounded some points of order, and we broke that filibuster. And I 
disposed of more than 30 amendments within the course of a few minutes.
 And the filibuster was broken--back, neck, legs, arms. It went away in 
12 hours.

  So I know something about filibusters. I helped to set a great many 
of the precedents that are in the books here. Dizzy Dean said you can 
say these things, you can brag, if you have done it. So I do not know 
whether one wants to call that bragging or not, but that is fact--I 
think it is facts I am stating. And I am simply stating them to let 
other Senators know that I understand what frustrations are. I have 
been over this road, up and down the hill. And I think we give away 
something, something we can never retrieve, if we give away the right 
of unlimited debate. We ought to forget about streamlining, 
streamlining--the Senate was not meant to be streamlined. The process 
here was not meant to be streamlined.
  And again I say I understand that the rule has been abused. I 
understand that Senators do not really very often stand up and debate 
anymore. But let us not try to blame it on the rules. Blame it on 
Senators. Rules should not be blamed for it. The rule is there. I have 
already read that rule whereby a motion can be made, that is 
nondebatable, to proceed. Let us not throw out the baby with the bath 
water. The minority can be right and the minority has been right and I 
will always take my stand in support of this institution, the 
Constitution, and the rights of the minority.
  And I close by reading merely 2 pages, whereas I had intended to read 
70 pages when I began. Page 162:

       Arguments against filibusters have largely centered around 
     the principle that the majority should rule in a democratic 
     society. The very existence of the Senate, however, embodies 
     an equally valid tenet in American democracy: the principle 
     that minorities have rights.

  Of course, a minority abuses the rights, but the majority abuses the 
rights also--there are times.

       Furthermore, a majority of Senators, at a given time and on 
     a particular issue, may not truly represent majority 
     sentiment in the country. Senators from a few of the more 
     populous States may, in fact, represent a majority in the 
     Nation while numbering a minority of votes in the Senate, 
     where all the States are equal.

  Take California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New York--
there is a minority of States. I have not counted the votes recently, 
but I would daresay there is about--almost a majority of the 
population, if not a majority. There is a minority of States. They can 
be right. We ought to think long and long and long and long and hard 
before we tinker with something that has been tried and tested for 200 
years because there is a problem with it. Let us see if we cannot heal 
that problem in other ways. Let us have resort to Rule VIII. Of course, 
we are not the majority again. Right now we cannot resort to it. But 
the majority can resort to it.
  Well, back on my reading. Let me repeat:

       Senators from a few of the more populous States may, in 
     fact, represent a majority in the nation while numbering a 
     minority of votes in the Senate, where all the States are 
     equal. Additionally, a minority opinion in the country may 
     become the majority view, once the people are more fully 
     informed about an issue through lengthy debate and scrutiny. 
     A minority today may become the majority tomorrow.

  Why should not a majority have a right to stop a piece of 
legislation? My friend says, well, let us retain the right to slow 
down, the right to slow down, but let us take away this power to stop 
  I understand how Napoleon felt when he was banished to Elba. I have a 
room down here in the corner. Here I was majority leader and had this 
six vast rooms, and along came the election and I was banished to 
almost Outer Mongolia. I know how Napoleon felt because I have seen him 
in his picture with his hands folded behind him, looking out upon the 
sad and solemn sea. But that is the way it is in politics. You are up 
one day, you are down the next. So I am in the minority right now.

       Moreover, the framers of the Constitution thought of the 
     Senate as the safeguard against hasty and unwise action by 
     the House in response to temporary whims and storms of 
     passion that may sweep over the land. Delay, deliberation, 
     and debate --though time consuming--may avoid mistakes that 
     would be regretted in the long run. The Senate is the only 
     forum in the government where the perfection of laws may be 
     unhurried and where controversial decisions may be hammered 
     out on the anvil of lengthy debate. The liberties of a free 
     people will always be safe where a forum exists in which open 
     and unlimited debate is allowed.
       The most important argument supporting extended debate in 
     the Senate, and even the right to filibuster, is the system 
     of checks and balances. The Senate operates as the balance 
     wheel in that system, because it provides the greatest check 
     against an all-powerful executive through the privilege that 
     Senators have to discuss without hindrance what they please 
     for as long as they please. A minority can often use 
     publicity to focus popular opinion upon matters that can 
     embarrass the majority and the executive. Without the 
     potential for
      filibusters, that power to check a Senate majority or an 
     imperial presidency * * *

  We are not talking about pride and prerogative and privilege and 
power here. Here is what is involved. ``Without the potential for 
filibusters, that power to check a Senate majority or an 
[[Page S44]] imperial presidency''--and we have seen an imperial 
presidency in this land--would be destroyed.''

       It is a power too sacred to be trifled with. As Lyndon 
     Baines Johnson said on March 9, 1949:
       * * * if I should have the opportunity to send into the 
     countries behind the iron curtain one freedom and only one, I 
     know what my choice would be. * * * I would send to those 
     nations the right of unlimited debate in their legislative 

  Peter the Great did not have a Senate with unlimited debate, with 
power over the purse, when he enslaved hundreds of thousands of men in 
the building of Saint Petersburg.

       * * * If we now, in the haste and irritation, shut off this 
     freedom, we shall be cutting off the most vital safeguard 
     which minorities possess against the tyranny of momentary 
       As one who has served both as majority leader and as 
     minority leader, as a senator who has engaged both in 
     filibustering and in breaking filibusters during my thirty-
     one years in this body, I believe that Rule XXII today 
     strikes a fair and proper balance between the need to protect 
     the minority against hasty and arbitrary action by a majority 
     and the need for the Senate to be able to act on matters 
     vital to the public interest. More drastic cloture than the 
     rules now provide is neither necessary nor desirable.
       We must not forget that the right of extended, and even 
     unlimited, debate is the main cornerstone of the Senate's 
     uniqueness. It is also a primary reason that the United 
     States Senate is the most powerful upper chamber in the world 
     today. The occasional abuse of this right has been, at times, 
     a painful side effect, but it never has been and never will 
     be fatal to the overall public good in the long run. Without 
     the right of unlimited debate, of course, there would be no 
     filibusters, but there would also be no Senate, as we know 
     it. The good outweighs the bad, even though they may have 
     been exasperating, contentious, and perceived as iniquitous. 
     Filibusters are necessary evil, which must be tolerated lest 
     the Senate lose its special strength and become a mare 
     appendage of the House of Representatives. If this should 
     happen, which God avert, the American Senate would cease to 
     be ``that remarkable body'' about which William Ewart 
     Gladstone spoke--``the most remarkable of all the inventions 
     of modern politics.''

  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. FORD. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Bennett). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
   The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.