CLOTURE is a procedure used by the United States Senate to end a filibuster or prolonged debate and reach a final vote on the pending motion, bill, amendment, or conference report. Unlimited debate in the Senate was curtailed by the addition of cloture under Senate Rule 22, adopted in 1917. To invoke cloture, a senator must file a motion signed by at least sixteen members. Once the cloture motion is filed, only germane amendments may be offered and may only be introduced by the next legislative day.
The Senate later modified the cloture procedure to reduce the number of votes required to end debate for most matters to 60 percent of the entire Senate. Post-cloture debate was reduced to 100 hours in 1979 and then to 30 hours in 1986. Proposed changes to Senate rules still require a two-thirds supermajority vote to invoke cloture. In The period since 1975, more than 300 cloture votes have been taken, with debate successfully ended 40 percent of the time. Use of the cloture procedure reduces the effectiveness of impassioned minority viewpoints, allowing a supermajority to move forward on controversial agenda items.
Congressional Quarterly, Guide to the Congress of the United States. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Service, 1971.
See alsoFilibuster, Congressional .
clo·ture / ˈklōchər/ • n. (in a legislative assembly) a procedure for ending a debate and taking a vote: [as adj.] a cloture motion. • v. [tr.] apply the cloture to (a debate or speaker) in a legislative assembly.
Cloture terminates debate in a legislative body. The rules of the senate encourage extended debates and, by taking advantage of those rules, sectional or ideological cliques can prevent action on bills they oppose. Only after rules reforms in the early 1960s made cloture easier did Congress pass effective civil rights acts.
Dennis J. Mahoney