Old Fashioned Filibuster Facts

BY News Desk  March 7, 2013 at 7:44 PM EST


Photo By Bill Clark/ CQ Roll Call/ Getty Images.

All signs pointed to an easy confirmation of CIA director nominee John Brennan. That is until Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took the Senate floor just before noon on Wednesday to filibuster the confirmation. After nearly 13 hours, he yielded the floor and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., filed a cloture motion, which passed Thursday afternoon after Paul lift his objection to Brennan’s nomination. This cleared the path for a vote on Brennan’s confirmation, which passed with a 63-34 vote.

Paul’s primary purpose in filibustering the nomination was to seek clarification on the White House’s policy on drones; he sought an answer on whether the government has the authority to use drones to kill noncombatant American citizens on U.S. soil.

Attorney General Eric Holder responded Thursday in a 43-word letter, addressed to Paul. The short and sweet answer to Paul’s concern: “No.” Hearing that the administration did not have the authority to target American citizens with drones on U.S. soil, Paul lifted his objection to Brennan.

In the early years of Congress, senators and representatives were given the right to debate on issues for unlimited amounts of time, based on the principle that any member of Congress should have the right to speak as long as necessary on any issue. However, this ideal quickly proved a hindrance, slowing down the legislative process so much that many important and essential bills never saw the Senate floor.

Here are some fascinating facts and numbers on filibusters.