The Senate has approved a bipartisan agreement to limit the use of filibusters during debate and to speed nominations.
AP / File
From Jimmy Stewart's fictional all-night talkathon to real-life dramas over World War I and civil rights, the Senate's filibuster has played a notable — sometimes reviled — role in the nation's history. Now the slow-moving, famously deliberative chamber has dialed it back, though modestly.
Filibusters are procedural delays that outnumbered lawmakers use to try killing bills and nominations. But they seldom look like the speech delivered by the exhausted, devoted senator portrayed by Stewart in the film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
In fact, the Senate currently has more filibusters than ever. But you'd hardly know it by watching the chamber on C-SPAN television.
These days, lawmakers intent on killing a bill simply inform majority Democrats that to pass the measure, they will need yes votes from 60 of the 100 senators. With Democrats controlling just 55 votes, nothing can pass that threshold without at least some Republican support.
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