Republicans have used the filibuster more often, though its impact on legislation is unclear.
The filibuster is an obstructive parliamentary system that makes it harder to debate a bill in U.S. Congress. Filibusters are typically used to deliberately delay or block a vote by the opposing party. The tactic usually involves talking at length on an issue to extend the debate and reduce the likelihood of a vote in Congress. Data from the Center for American Progress reports that, on the whole, Republicans have used the filibuster twice as many times as Democrats have. According to a report from the Center, published in 2019, "On the whole, the filibuster has been used roughly twice as much by Senate Republicans to prevent Democratic legislation from passing than Senate Democrats have used it to prevent Republican legislation." The report adds that Republican policies, such as cutting tax bills for wealthy Americans, are not subjected to a filibuster. Republicans have also fast-tracked several policies, which ultimately eliminates the need for a filibuster. However, the report further states that while it's clear the tactic has affected America’s political landscape, it’s impossible to accurately measure the filibuster’s impact or its “range of progressive or conservative policies” that might have been enacted by the vote. The Center found that the use of filibusters has skyrocketed in recent years by measuring cloture votes. Cloture votes are used to stop a filibuster in progress. From 1917 to 1970, there were fewer than 60 cloture votes in total. From 1970 to 2000, there was an average of 17 votes per year. Finally, between 2000 and 2018, an average of 53 cloture votes was used, with minority governments. Prominent Republicans and Democrats have criticized filibusters at various points. For example, in 2017, former President Donald Trump called to abolish the filibuster. Former President Barack Obama also called for an end to the filibuster in 2020, describing it as a "Jim Crow relic." Prominent uses of the filibuster include the Democrats’ attempts to block Donald Trump’s plans to clamp down on immigration by building a wall at the Mexican border, while Republicans have used it to restrict abortion access. However, both parties have been accused of misusing the filibuster or calling for it to be abolished when it suits their interests. While the filibuster remains a contentious issue for both parties, data shows that Republicans have used the filibuster more on average.