Legislative Tactics: From Caucuses to Vetoes

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  • 0:02 Background
  • 0:31 Caucuses
  • 1:23 Filibuster & Cloture
  • 2:27 Pork Barrel Legislation
  • 3:10 Logrolling & Riders
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Williams

Jennifer has taught various courses in U.S. Government, Criminal Law, Business, Public Administration and Ethics and has an MPA and a JD.

In this lesson, we will learn about several different types of legislative tactics. We will look at what these tactics are and how effective they can be.


In this lesson, we will learn about several different types of legislative tactics. We will look at what these tactics are and how effective they can be.

There are numerous tactics that are used in Congress in order to get business done and legislation passed. These tactics are used in many ways to either delay, further, or end legislation from being discussed and passed. Several of these tactics are discussed here.


One tactic that can be used in Congress as a means to get favorable legislation passed for a particular political party is caucuses. Caucuses are groups of party members within a legislative body that stick together to determine strategy and pursue the group's interests. A caucus could be made up of a particular race, gender, or political group. A caucus meets and chooses what actions all of the members will take with regards to a particular vote or policy.

A caucus is a particularly effective legislative tactic because this subgroup of leaders can communicate effectively so that all of its members are on the same page in understanding what position to take. Additionally, this smaller subgroup can work together to nominate candidates for committees that will pursue the group's interests.

Filibuster and Cloture

Another way to delay or obstruct legislation from passing in Congress is by a filibuster. A filibuster is a legislative tactic that delays legislative action by engaging in prolonged speech-making. A filibuster is typically done to obstruct a party from getting legislation passed. It works by refusing to allow another person to be recognized on the floor as the person performing the filibuster continues to talk uninterrupted.

A filibuster is often threatened when a motion for cloture has been denied. A motion for cloture is a motion to bring debate in Congress to an end. This legislative tactic is often used to get a vote to end debate quickly in order to prevent a filibuster. A cloture can also be used to end a filibuster after a particular length of time.

Both of these legislative tactics are important because they are ways to keep debate open - or quickly end it - in order to get the votes that a particular political party may want.

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