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In parliamentary procedure, cloture (pronounced /ˈkloʊtʃər/ KLOH-chər) is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. It is also called closure or, informally, a guillotine.[1] The cloture procedure originated in the French National Assembly, from which the name is taken. Clôture is French for "ending" or "conclusion". It was introduced into the Parliament of the United Kingdom by William Ewart Gladstone to overcome the obstruction of the Irish nationalist party and was made permanent in 1887. It was subsequently adopted by the United States Senate and other legislatures.


United Kingdom

A motion for cloture may be adopted in both the House of Commons and in the House of Lords by a simple majority of those voting. In the House of Commons, at least 100 Members must vote in favour of the motion for cloture to be adopted; the Speaker of the House of Commons may choose to deny the cloture motion if he or she feels that insufficient debate has occurred, or that the procedure is being used to violate the rights of the minority. The government often imposes a timetable on legislation in advance by way of a programme motion, under which debate automatically ceases when the allotted time expires. In the House of Lords, the Lord Speaker does not possess an equivalent power. Programme motions are often referred to as "guillotines" but never as clotures.

United States

Party leadership of the United States Senate

Democratic Caucus
Republican Conference


A similar procedure was adopted in the United States of America in response to the actions of isolationist senators who attempted to talk out, or filibuster, a bill to arm U.S. merchant ships. President Woodrow Wilson urged the Senate to change its rules to thwart what he called a "little group of willful men", to which the Senate responded by introducing cloture in the form of Rule 22 on March 8, 1917.[2] Cloture was invoked for the first time on November 15, 1919,[3] during the 66th Congress, to end filibuster on the Treaty of Versailles.[4]

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