11/26/2013

Filibusters have fallen under Obama: The media is confusing motions to file for cloture votes with successful filibusters


Click on figures to enlarge.

There are three stages in a filibuster fight: file a motion for cloture, a vote on cloture, and whether a cloture is invoked.  In the Senate, a motion must be filed before a cloture vote can take place.  Motions to file for cloture is the measure that the Democrats and the media want everyone to focus on, but the typical discussion averages the numbers across administrations and ignores that this soared before Obama became president.  Indeed, the important point to emphasize is that the increase in motions for cloture occurred when Democrats took control of the Senate in 2007.  What happened was that Democrats decided to file a motion for cloture whenever debates started, even if there was no threat of a filibuster.

Motion for clotures soared from 68 in 2005-2006 (when Republicans controlled the Senate) to 139 in 2007-2008 (when Democrats controlled the Senate), and they have remained high since then as Democrats have continued to be in control.


But a motion filed is not a vote on cloture, let alone a successful filibuster.  Indeed, the annual rate of successful filibusters under Obama (15) is actually slightly lower than it was under George W. Bush or Clinton (17 each). 


The drop is even more pronounced when one looks at the pattern since the Democrats took control of the Senate in 2007.  In 2007-2008 under George W. Bush, there were 51 successful filibusters.  During the next to congresses under Obama those numbers were 28 and 32.  So much for the claim that Obama is being singled out for filibusters.  

Conclusion: the changes in both motions to file and filibusters are due to the Democrats taking control of the Senate.  And it is not surprising given that Democrats are running the show, the problems were greater for George W. Bush than for Obama.

The data for this is available here.

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