Cloture is a process the Senate is using on a fairly frequent basis. It’s a procedural vote, or as it’s sometimes called, a test vote. It’s one of the first ways to see if a bill will live or die.
Cloture is a French word meaning ‘to terminate.’ That’s how the Senate uses it, to start a debate countdown on a bill or end a filibuster.
To bring a bill to a full vote, the Senate must agree to do so. There are two ways to do that. The first way is through unanimous consent, which is the preferred way. However, that means a single opposing vote could kill that motion.
The second option is cloture, which generally needs 60 votes. There are some cloture votes that need just a simple majority, but legislation generally needs 60 votes if all Senate seats are filled.
It takes 16 senators to file a cloture motion. Interestingly, when cloture is filed, if another senator is speaking at that time, the member filing cloture gets to interrupt him or her to file.
Once cloture is filed, senators will vote on it one hour after it convenes on the second calendar day after the cloture motion was filed. For example, if cloture is filed anytime on a Wednesday, the vote would happen Friday, an hour after the Senate is called into session.
If cloture is invoked, the Senate votes on the full bill 30 hours after that.
In that time, senators can only add amendments to the bill that are relevant. That means they aren’t able to add in pet project bills as a bargaining tool for their vote.
That 30-hour window is why Senators will occasionally come in on weekends for big votes.
If cloture fails, the majority leader can file a motion to reconsider and then can try to invoke cloture again at a later time.
It’s harder to pass cloture than the final bill because final passage only needs a majority to pass, or in a full Senate 51 votes.
That is why cloture is often called a test vote.
Joshua Johnson: “AND THAT MEANS THE MOTION FOR CLOTURE IN THIS BILL IS ADOPTED”
STEVE DOOCY: “SO TOMORROW, THERE WILL BE A CLOTURE VOTE”
Annie Andersen: WE HEAR IT TIME AND TIME AGAIN –
AND THIS WEEK, ONCE AGAIN, IT’S THE BUZZWORD IN THE BELTWAY.
WHAT EXACTLY IS CLOTURE?
IT’S TODAY’S – DC DICTIONARY
IN A NUTSHELL… CLOTURE IS ONE OF THE FIRST WAYS TO SEE IF A BILL IS GOING TO LIVE OR DIE.
Sen. Chuck Schumer “MEMBERS SHOULD BE PREPARED TO VOTE AGAIN ON CLOTURE ON THE MOTION TO PROCEED TO THE BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL AS EARLY AS TONIGHT.”
Annie Andersen: YOU MAY ALSO HEAR IT BY OTHER NAMES…
A TEST VOTE… OR A PROCEDURAL VOTE.
CLOTURE IS BASICALLY A WAY TO STOP DEBATE ON AN ISSUE, SO SENATORS CAN VOTE ON THE BILL OR MOTION. –THAT INCLUDES STOPPING A FILIBUSTER.
THE SENATE IS MORE DEEPLY DIVIDED, IDEOLOGICALLY, THAN PERHAPS AT ANY TIME IN MODERN HISTORY.
GOVTRACK, WHICH FOLLOWS MEMBERS’ POSITIONS ON VARIOUS ISSUES, SHOWS THERE IS VERY LITTLE OVERLAP BETWEEN REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS. –NO MIDDLE GROUND.
NORMALLY, WHEN AN ISSUE IS DEBATED ON THE SENATE FLOOR, IT’S TO NEGOTIATE A COMPROMISE OR SWAY ANOTHER SENATOR’S VOTE.
BUT WITH VERY LITTLE MIDDLE GROUND NOW-ADAYS, THERE’S LESS NEED FOR DEBATE.
WHICH LEADS TO THE REASON WHY YOU’D INVOKE CLOTURE.
IF YOU HAVE THE MAJORITY OF VOTES, YOU DON’T NEED TO CONVINCE ANYONE ELSE IN ORDER TO GET THE BILL PASSED. SO YOU STOP DEBATE AND CALL THE VOTE SOONER.
IT TAKES GENERALLY 60 SENATORS TO INVOKE CLOTURE, BUT SOMETIMES IT CAN PASS WITH A SIMPLE MAJORITY.
ONCE CLOTURE’S INVOKED, THE CLOCK STARTS TICKING.
THE SENATE ONLY HAS 30 HOURS LEFT TO DEBATE, NEGOTIATE AND VOTE.
Sen. Chuck Schumer <<”“SENATOR MANCHIN HAS INFORMED ME THAT HE WILL VOTE YES ON THE MOTION TO PROCEED TO DEBATE THE LEGISLATION. I HAVE COMMITTED TO HIM THAT IF OUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES DON’T OBSTRUCT AND ALLOW US TO MOVE FORWARD ON THE DEBATE WILL TAKE UP HIS PROPOSED SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT AS THE FIRST AMENDMENT WE WILL CONSIDER.”>>
Annie Andersen: DURING CLOTURE, SENATORS CAN ONLY ADD AMENDMENTS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO THE BILL. NO ADDING IN PET PROJECTS AS A BARGAINING TOOL.
THE 30-HOUR WINDOW IS WHY SOMETIMES WE SEE SENATORS COMING IN ON WEEKENDS.
ONCE CLOTURE IS INVOKED THERE’S A GOOD CHANCE THE FINAL BILL WILL PASS.
IF IT FAILS.. THE MAJORITY LEADER IS ABLE TO GO BACK… CHANGE UP THE BILL AND TRY AGAIN.
Sen. Mitch McConnell<<”I ENTER A MOTION TO RECONSIDER THE VOTE.”>>
Annie Andersen: THAT’S THE DC DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF CLOTURE.
DID WE EXPLAIN IT WELL?
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.