In 1805 the Senate filibuster was accidentally created by clerical error in the Senate Rulebook introduced by Vice-President Aaron Burr, resulting in the godawful 60-vote Senate filibuster suffered for the next 220 years – including today. It takes ONLY ONE Senator to block an up or down vote on any piece of legislation – even if it has majority support. If a single Senator doesn’t like a bill, he or she can stop it from even coming to a vote. You can only break a filibuster or a hold on a vote ONLY by a 60-vote majority. Mitch McConnell used the filibuster with unprecedented frequency when the Democrats were in the majority, when Obama was President. What was once a rarely used tool became the norm – a defacto rule, you needed 60 votes to pass anything.
The filibuster was used expertly by segregationists for years to block anti-lynching and civl rights legislation; legislation that had majority support at the time that would have passed YEARS before it did if not for the filibuster. That racist legacy is what motivated former Obama speechwriter David Litt to call the filibuster, “A monument to White Supremacy.” President Obama called for the elimination of the filibuster last year at Congressman John Lewis’ funeral.
Today we know the filibuster as Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs & Ham for three days on the floor of the Senate.