Hoover’s Director of Washington Programs, Michael G. Franc, interviews author Molly E. Reynolds on her latest book, Exceptions to the Rule: The Politics of Filibuster Limitations in the U.S. Senate.

Many people believe that, in today’s partisan environment, the filibuster prevents the Senate from acting on all but the least controversial matters. But that knowledge is not exactly correct. In fact, the Senate since the 1970s has created a series of special rules-described as “majoritarian exceptions”-that limit debate on a wide range of measures.

Reynolds argues that these procedures represent a key instrument of majority party power in the Senate. They allow the majority-even if it does not have the sixty votes needed to block a filibuster-to produce policies that will improve its future electoral prospects, and thus increase the chances it remains the majority party.