The 5 longest filibusters in U.S. history

In this image from Senate video, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and a Republican presidential contender, speaks on the floor of the U.S. Senate Wednesday afternoon, May 20, 2015, at the Capitol in Washington, during a long speech opposing renewal of the Patriot Act. Paul claimed he was filibustering, but under the Senate rules, he wasn’t. (Senate TV via AP)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, earned headlines for his attempted filibuster Wednesday opposing the PATRIOT Act and criticizing the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

Paul’s longwinded speech clocked in at 10 hours, 31 minutes – a long time to talk, but hardly a record. In fact, it wouldn’t even be Paul’s longest filibuster attempt. He spoke for 12 hours and 52 minutes on the use of drones against American citizens in 2013 – the ninth-longest filibuster in U.S. history. Wednesday’s speech would have been the 10th longest.

Here is a look at the five longest filibusters in U.S. Senate history:

  1. Sen. William Proxmire D-Wisconsin – 1981

Proxmire, concerned about the nation’s rising debt level, spoke for 16 hours and 12 minutes to stall the debate of a bill that would have authorized a total national debt of $1 trillion.

What else can you do in 16 hours, 12 minutes: Drive from Washington D.C. to Minneapolis.

  1. Sen. Robert La Follette Sr. R-Wisconsin – 1908

La Follette Sr. spoke for 18 hours and 23 minutes to halt talks on the Aldrich-Vreeland currency bill, which permitted the U.S. Treasury to lend currency to banks during fiscal crises.

What else can you do in 18 hours, 23 minutes: Grill 110 steaks, one-by-one, to a medium temperature. Tedious task, you ask? Yes. Delicious task? Yes.

  1. Sen. Wayne Morse I-Oregon – 1953

Morse spoke for 22 hours and 26 minutes to stall debate on the Tidelands Oil bill in 1953. Morse, known as an outspoken Senator, also served terms in the Senate as both a Democrat and a Republican.

What else can you do in 22 hours, 26 minutes: Take the SAT six times – minus a few minutes for erasing stray marks.

  1. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato R-New York – 1986

The second-longest filibuster in U.S. history was held by Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, of New York, who spoke for 23 hours and 30 minutes to hold debate on a military bill in 1986. D’Amato reportedly was upset an amendment in the budgetary bill would cut funding for an aircraft built by a company headquartered in his state.

What else you can do in 23 hours, 30 minutes: Watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and all six “Star Wars” movies. You’d even have 25 minutes worth of bathroom breaks to spare.

  1. Sen. Strom Thurmond D-South Carolina – 1957

The longest filibuster in U.S. history belongs to longtime Sen. Strom Thurmond. The South Carolina Senator was a long opponent of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes to stall its passage. Reports say Thurmond recited the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and other historical documents to pass the time.

What else can you do in 24 hours, 18 minutes: Listen to the original “Free Bird” recording by Lynyrd Skynyrd on loop 194 times. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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