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CRS on Cloture and Filibusters

Cloture Attempts on Nominations: Data and Historical Development, by Richard S. Beth, Congressional Research Service, RL32878 (June 26, 2013). [Copy provided by the Federation of American Scientists.]

In recent years it has become increasingly common for Senators to seek cloture in order to limit chamber consideration of presidential nominations to positions in the executive and judicial branches of government. Cloture, which requires a super-majority vote, places time limits on consideration of a matter, and so may be employed as a means of overcoming filibusters. This report presents data on all nominations on which cloture motions have been offered…

The motion for cloture is available in the Senate to limit debate on nominations, as on other matters. Cloture can, accordingly, be used to overcome a filibuster against a nomination. Table 6 lists all nominations against which cloture has been moved, showing the outcome of the cloture attempt and the final disposition of the nomination. It would be erroneous, however, to treat this table as a list of filibusters on nominations. Filibusters can occur without cloture being attempted, and cloture can be attempted when no filibuster is evident. Often today, moreover, it appears that Senate leaders generally avoid bringing to the floor nominations on which a filibuster seems likely. In such cases there are no means by which to identify the merely threatened filibuster.

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