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Senate Filibusters . . . , by the Legislative Reference Division, Library of Congress, 1917

In 1917, with Congress mired in debate over the nation’s role in World War I, the Senate asked the Legislative Reference Service to study filibusters, prolonged speeches used to delay legislative action. Senators used the report to draft the chamber’s first cloture rule to limit debate. In 2011 the Senate, again wrestling with cloture issues, commissioned a new report.

U.S. Senate Library

Senate Filibusters . . . , by the Legislative Reference Division, Library of Congress, 1917

The Legislative Reference Service

Progressive-Era reformers drew on experts to guide their policy proposals. Believing that the best legislator is a well-informed legislator, a dozen states established legislative reference bureaus between 1903 and 1913. In 1914 Representative John M. Nelson and Senator Robert M. La Follette, both of Wisconsin, were instrumental in creating the Legislative Reference Service (LRS) through an appropriations act amendment. The LRS––renamed the Congressional Research Service in 1970––is part of the Library of Congress. It objectively compiles and analyzes information requested by members of Congress for legislative purposes.

I determined . . . to see to it that a legislative reference bureau be established as an agency of helpfulness for Congress, to enlarge our individual and collective capacity of legislative service, to attain a maximum of legislative efficiency.

Representative John M. Nelson of Wisconsin, Hearings before the Committee on the Library, . . . , February 26, 1912