How do Senate rules differ from House rules?


Quick Answer

A significant difference between United States Senate rules and House of Representatives rules is that the procedures in the Senate favor deliberation rather than quick action, while the House allows a numerical majority to push through legislation in a relatively much shorter length of time. The Senate rules also provide no more than only a few formal tools that enable a numerical majority to propose an item for consideration. Negotiations between majority and minority party leadership must typically take place before the leader of the majority party clears an item for action on the Senate floor.

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Full Answer

The slower pace of deliberation in the Senate enables individual senators to exercise procedural leverage. This has, at times, resulted in the use of the obstructive tactic known as the "filibuster" to prolong a debate or to prevent a vote on a bill. Senate rules permit a senator to speak on an issue for any length of time.

As of early 2015, the record for the longest filibuster in the history of the U.S. Senate is held by Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina who spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes. Senate Rule 22, however, allows for the Senate to invoke cloture, which closes the debate, under certain circumstances and with majority approval.

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