Faculty Publication: Build a Better Filibuster

Nancy Powers, Assistant Professor of Political Science, has published an op-ed “How the German model can help us build a better filibuster.”.  The article, posted April 6, 2021, is available online on Congressional Quarterly’s daily journal, Roll Call, website. The media company is considered the leading provider of congressional news, legislative tracking and advocacy services.


Republicans and Democrats both have played Stealth Filibuster, a game in which the party with the fewest votes gets its way. Never mind if voters did not choose the minority party to lead. The rules and practices of the Senate have made bully tactics a right of membership.

The filibuster threat can halt progress on legislation that the House already passed, Senate committees have marked up and a majority of senators favor. Worse, given the “stealth” nature of many filibuster threats, voters cannot punish a senator for stopping popular legislation. Quite the opposite. Senators can quietly block legislation and later scapegoat the majority for failing to enact it.

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