A term to know.
The term derives from a Dutch word meaning "pirate" and became popular in the 1850s, when it was applied to efforts to hold the Senate floor in order to prevent a vote on a bill. In the early years of Congress, representatives as well as senators could filibuster. As the House of Representatives grew in numbers, however, revisions to the House rules limited debate. In the smaller Senate, unlimited debate continued on the grounds that any senator should have the right to speak as long as necessary on any issue.