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In the US senate, there is a rule called a filibuster that allows a minority to block a bill by endlessly debating an irrelevant/arbitrary topic and a simple majority wouldn't be enough.

Why wasn't the filibuster removed? Couldn't senators from both parties agree on that because they would be able to take advantage of no filibuster when they get majorities in the Senate if the filibuster was abolished?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt4jHLteXag

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  • "nonsense" is incidental. A better one phrase summary is debate on a topic cannot be arbitrarily time-limited by a simple majority. – user4556274 Nov 15 '20 at 20:29
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    The filibuster would have a lot less problems if it actually worked as intended and someone was speaking for the entire time of the filibuster which would hold up all other work. Because people would actually be held accountable for a filibuster if it was done like it was supposed to be done. – Joe W Nov 15 '20 at 20:58
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Perhaps someday it will be, but this is called the "nuclear option" for good reason.

Each party has used the filibuster to prevent legislation, or at least force amendments to legislation that they don't like. If Democrats had got rid of the filibuster under Obama, they would not have been able to block Trump's Wall and other projects. If Republicans had got rid of the filibuster in 2017, they could easily find themselves unable to restrain the Biden Presidency in 2021.

Both sides have found it beneficial in the long term to keep the filibuster. This is part of the culture of US politics. Perhaps that culture is changing. Under parliamentary systems, filibusters of government laws are usually impossible. The US system works because much legislation is actually created state by state rather than by the Federal government. The federal government can afford to pass only a few bill with general bipartisan support because lots of the day to day legistative work is done in the 50 capitols up and down the country.

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  • As far as I understand, it does require cloture to remove the filibuster. So finding members of the minority party at a given time to remove the filibuster is challenging. – Azor Ahai -him- Nov 15 '20 at 22:26
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    If you knew that two weeks ago, I'd be impressed. – James K Nov 15 '20 at 23:39
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    @AzorAhai-him- You can just nuclear option that, too. That was the entire function of the nuclear option: you can override any rule by just ruling that you aren't doing so. – zibadawa timmy Nov 15 '20 at 23:48
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    Not specific to parliamentary systems. The U.S. House has no filibuster either. Until the nuclear option was first used, the thought was that it took bipartisan majorities to change the U.S. Senate rules since it was in continuous session never fully replacing its membership or even a majority of its membership at once. You could never start fresh on the rules when a new majority came into office. Once the nuclear option was first accepted the filibuster became a suggestion only rather than a binding rule if push comes to shove. – ohwilleke Nov 17 '20 at 3:29
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    "The US system works because much legislation is actually created state by state rather than by the Federal government. The federal government can afford to pass only a few bill with general bipartisan support because lots of the day to day legistative work is done in the 50 capitols up and down the country." This statement is IMHO inaccurate. Most bills are passed with bipartisan majorities and lots of bills on lots of topics still get passed. Federalism is not an important factor in this reality. – ohwilleke Nov 17 '20 at 3:31

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