The Three Longest, Most Bizarre Filibusters In Senate History

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Paul Rand
Rand Paul.

As Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., continued his epic filibuster on Wednesday night against John O. Brennan's nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, IBTimes took a look back at three of the most long-winded and bizarre filibusters in the Senate's history.

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Strom Thurmond, 1957

Thurmond, a Democrat at the time, holds the record for longest filibuster in the United States Senate, clocking in at at 24 hours and 18 minutes. According to Business Insider, Thurmond spoke from 8:45 p.m. on Aug. 28, 1957, and finished his filibuster at 9:12 p.m. the following day.

So what did Thurmond talk about for so long? He read the voting laws of all 48 (at the time) states, the United States criminal code, and the Declaration of Independence, and he took questions from Senators sympathetic to his position.

Today, more people admire Thurmond’s endurance than his cause. The reason? He was attempting to block passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Ultimately, he failed.

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Alfonse D’Amato, 1986 and 1992

D’Amato is extremely impressive for a couple of reasons: First, he came close to beating Strom Thurmond’s record by speaking for 23 hours and 30 minutes in 1986. Second, he almost did it again six years later.

According to Fox News, in 1986, D’Amato nearly broke the Senate filibuster record when he attempted to block a defense bill that would have defunded a trainer jet program in upstate New York. He was ultimately successful in his attempt.

While that alone sounds extremely impressive, it’s even more breathtaking when you consider that D’Amato pulled the same stunt again in 1992 to protest a bill that would have outsourced more than 800 jobs in an upstate New York community to Mexico. The shining moment of his 15-hour-and-14-minute speech? D’Amato crooned “South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)” as a part of his filibuster.

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Huey Long, 1935

Long, a Louisiana Democrat, was a big fan of filibustering bills that he believed exploited the poor and empowered the rich. And while he had an illustrious history of filibustering, his most memorable moment came on June 12-13, 1935.

In an attempt to prevent his enemies in Louisiana from gaining jobs in the National Recovery Administration, Long defied party head President Franklin Roosevelt and launched into a 15-hour-and-30-minute filibuster to protest the removal of a provision from a bill that would have required Senate confirmation for senior NRA employees, according to Senate.gov. Toward the end of his speech, Long had exhausted all points of discussion relevant to his argument and began reading aloud his family’s recipes for fried oysters and “potlikker,” a soup created from boiling collard greens. At the time, it was the Senate's second-longest filibuster in its history, and it was Long's lengthiest.

Unfortunately for Long, he lost his resolve somewhere around four in the morning and saw his position defeated.

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