Famous Filibusters

From "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" to Rand Paul, Wendy Davis and Ted Cruz, check out famous examples of politicians taking about their cause 'til they drop.

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Wearing pink tennis shoes to prepare for nearly 13 consecutive hours of standing, Democratic Texas Sen. Wendy Davis began a one-woman filibuster in June to block a GOP-led effort that would impose stringent new abortion restrictions across Texas. Other fun facts: she used a back brace to support her very long stand, as well as a urinary catheter to relieve herself. The Republican-controlled Texas legislature passed the bill nearly three weeks later.
James Stewart famously dramatized the filibuster in the 1939 movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Filibusters are procedural delays that lawmakers used to try to kill bills and nominations. Sen. Ted Cruz's all-nighter on the Senate floor in support of derailing funding for Obamacare wasn't technically a filibuster, though he did outlast Rand Paul's 14-hour gabfest from earlier this year. Click through to see other famous filibusters.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz led a talk-a-thon in opposition to the federal health care law that lasted more than 21 hours. After starting at 2:41 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, Cruz wrapped up his marathon speech without a bathroom break or much food, NBC News reported. The senator included a goodnight reading of Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" for his children and talked about his love of White Castle burgers. It wasn't a formal filibuster though, because it did not delay or prevent a vote on House-passed legislation and was planned with Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid's blessing.
Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-S.C.) spoke a record-breaking 24-hours, 18 minutes, against the compromise Civil Rights bill on Aug. 29, 1957. His wife, Jean — who kept a sometimes lonely vigil as a one-person audience in the Senate gallery — smiles in the background.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., held up the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director back in March with a 13-hour filibuster in protest over the Obama administration's drone program. Paul's remarks were centered on what he said was the administration's refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes inside the United States against American citizens. Paul claimed victory after Attorney General Eric Holder later said the president didn't have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.
Huey P. Long, a Democrat from Louisiana, in 1935 held the second longest filibuster in Senate history with 15 hours and 30 minutes. He was blocking his political rivals from getting lucrative government jobs.
AP Photo/John Duricka
Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., leans against the podium as he speaks to reporters at Capitol Hill on Oct. 7, 1992, in Washington after ending his 15-hour filibuster. D’Amato said the biggest physical challenge was “standing in one place, not being able to sit down.” D’Amato staged the filibuster in an attempt to restore a provision to the tax bill that might have saved jobs at a New York Smith Corona plant.
Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin spoke for 16 hours and 12 minutes to stall a debate to increase the debt ceiling in 1981.
AP Photo/HLG
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W. Va., repacks his brief case on Jan. 10, 1964, after keeping the Senate in a round-the clock session with a more than 15-hour speech. Byrd, foe of the civil rights bill, said he made his marathon speech in hope of defeating efforts to cut off debate on the civil rights bill. "It was something I had to do," Byrd said. Later, the senate voted to choke off debate.
Sen. Wayne Morse of Oregon spoke for 22 hours and 26 minutes to stall an oil bill in 1953.
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Senator from Wisconsin Robert M. La Follette, Sr. halted a currency bill with a 18 hour and 23 minute filibuster in 1908. The Aldrich-Vreeland currency bill would have permitted the Treasury to lend money to banks during financial crises.
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