One Obstacle among Many: The Filibuster and Majority Party Agendas

James M. Curry, Frances E. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In today's hyper-partisan environment, scholars and commentators contend that the filibuster poses a nearly insuperable obstacle to a Senate majority party's agenda, limiting Congress's output to non-controversial measures. Drawing on data about congressional majority party agenda priorities from 1985 to 2020 we identify when and how majority party legislative efforts fell short of success and take stock of the degree to which the filibuster was the primary culprit. Not surprisingly, our data confirm that the filibuster is a significant problem for majority party agendas. But an even more common cause of failure is the majority party's inability to agree among themselves. Despite increased voting cohesion generally, parties in the polarized era still routinely struggle to bridge their own internal divides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-708
Number of pages24
JournalForum (Germany)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 24 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


  • Senate
  • filibuster
  • intra-party divisions
  • success with party agendas


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