The Filibuster in 1954

The Filibuster - back in the day when you wanted to stall vote on something in Congress - drag a library of books, a 20 pound box of lozenges and stamina for an undetermined period of time.

July 1954 – China And A Skeptical Eye Towards Southeast Asia – The Care And Feeding Of The Filibuster In Congress. Past Daily Reference Room.

The Filibuster in 1954
The Filibuster – back in the day when you wanted to stall a vote on something in Congress – drag a library of books, a 20 pound box of lozenges and stamina for an undetermined period of time.

July 1954 – Keys To The Capitol – NBC Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

The world of July 1954. A weekly report discussing the goings-on at Capitol Hill by a group of broadcast journalists (this one from NBC Radio), giving opinions, accounts and assessments of the week past.

This week the discussion centered around two things; China and The Filibuster. China was long seen as having potential for another war – their involvement in the Korean conflict gave some indication of just how serious the Chinese Army was in waging war, and just how much it had evolved since the days just after World War 2 when the Communist movement of Mao Tse-tung took hold and spread, eventually ousting Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, forcing him to relocate and set up shop on Formosa (Taiwan). China was forever making overtures to the new island-nation and the new island-nation was adamant about not wanting any part of Mao’s thoughts or deeds.

So where did America fit in to all this? With the recent fall of Dien-Bien Phu and the eventual abandonment of French Indochina to become North and South Vietnam, it was looking clearer and clearer that America had an obligation to maintain some level of Democracy in that increasingly troubled region. That America was verging on becoming Policeman of The World.

A story slowly unfolding, but even in 1954 there were trouble signs ahead. Asia was in the process of evolving, as many nations of the Postwar world were in the process of doing.

But the other prominent story in this broadcast was regarding the status of The Filibuster in Congress; a procedure that had been in place since the First Congress met. Many questioned its validity; the notion that opponents of a piece of legislation who didn’t have enough votes to override an upcoming vote on a bill would launch into a non-stop exercise in long-windedness by commandeering the floor and staying there until one side gave in. That when one Congressman hit a wall of exhaustion, another would take his place and the filibuster would continued until that lawmaker hit a wall and then it was handed over to another.

Many have seen the Filibuster as an antique of the past, and one that has been modified and somewhat abused over the years, so the endurance test is no longer a requirement for overriding a piece of legislation – just the mere threat of it.

Some are calling for its retirement while others are asking it be returned to the days when it was a verbal and political endurance test. But that’s how it looked in July of 1954. All by way of Keys To The Capitol from NBC Radio, broadcast on July 24, 1954.




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