The Congress: Silence in the Senate

Vice President Lyndon Johnson grasped the worn ivory ball that serves him as a gavel, rapped smartly, and declared: "Two-thirds of the Senators present and voting having voted in the affirmative, the sense of the Senate is that debate shall be brought to a close."

That was the announcement of a historic action: the U.S. Senate, which prides itself as the earth's last bastion of unlimited debate, had just imposed cloture on a small band of filibustering liberal Democrats. For seven days the filibusterers had tied up the Senate by fighting an...

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