A Political History of Obstruction in the House and Senate
University of Chicago Press 2010
In recent months, we’ve been hearing a lot of talk about filibustering in the Senate, about how Senate Democrats acquired a filibuster-proof majority in the 2008 elections only to lose it by the midterm elections of 2010 when Scott Brown was elected to replace Ted Kennedy. Filibustering has become the norm in the Senate, so much so that it is taken for granted that the Senate minority party will threaten filibustering more often than not. This has led Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to issue calls for reforming the filibuster process in order to make it more difficult for any minority party in the Senate to be obstructionist.
In a timely new book, Filibustering: A Political History of Obstruction in the House and Senate (University of Chicago Press, 2010), Gregory Koger explains the American filibuster, catalogs its use in the House and Senate, measures its impact, and finally theorizes why and how obstruction has been institutionalized in the Senate, particularly in the last 50 years.
In this interview he explains, among other things, the long pedigree of obstruction in the Senate, how and why filibustering became routinized, and why reform will not be easy.