On ABC’s “This Week,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin defended the parliamentary practice, claiming getting rid of the filibuster “would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers.” But the filibuster wasn’t part of the Senate rules when it was created.
The House and Senate in the first Congress in 1789 both had a rule that allowed a simple majority to end debate and call for a final vote, according to Sarah Binder, a professor of political science at George Washington University who wrote a book on the history of the filibuster. The rule was rarely invoked, and it was dropped by the Senate in 1806, allowing for unlimited debates. But filibusters didn’t become an issue until the mid-1800s, when the Senate “grew larger and more polarized along party lines,” Binder said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration in 2010.
“The most persistent myth is that the filibuster was part of the Founding Fathers’ constitutional vision for the Senate,” Binder told the Senate rules committee.