Trend Watch

Filibuster

When:

Lookups spiked on March 7, 2013.

Why:

Senator Rand Paul delayed a vote on President Obama's nominee for CIA director by speaking for nearly 13 hours on the Senate floor – an obstruction procedure known as a filibuster.

The Kentucky Republican wanted to draw attention to government policy regarding the possibility of using drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil.

Filibuster means "an effort to prevent action in a legislature by making a long speech or series of speeches." The tactic is normally used by a group that doesn't have enough votes to defeat a bill by vote. Since Senate rules allow unlimited debate on a bill, a filibuster may be used to attempt a compromise, or, more often, to draw attention to an issue from the point of view of a voting minority. The speech need not be related to the bill under discussion.

The word filibuster comes from the Spanish word for freebooter, meaning a "pirate" or "plunderer."

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