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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The magic minute, or leadership minute, is a custom in the United States House of Representatives that allows party leaders to speak for as long as they wish, in contrast with other members, who have to adhere to strict time limits. The convention was notably used by Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy in 2018 and 2021, respectively, to speak for records of over eight hours.

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Speeches one minute in length are allowed before or after legislative sessions every day. The members are asked to stay within a 300 word limit. The speeches are granted with permission from the Speaker.[1]

The magic minute is distinct from the Senate filibuster.[2] The House speaker, majority leader, and minority leader are afforded this privilege and their speeches are considered to have taken one minute, regardless of actual length. This has the effect of not taking up other members' allotted times.[3] The House parliamentarian has advised in response to queries regarding time limits that "it is the custom of the House to hear the leader's remarks"[4] and that party leaders had "used a customary amount of time" in answer to parliamentary inquiries about how much time had elapsed since they began speaking.[5]


Clark dressed in a suit and tie and furry top-hat with an austere expression
Champ Clark, who used the magic minute in 1909

The custom has been used by leaders of both parties. Champ Clark, the minority leader in 1909, spoke for five hours and fifteen minutes against tax reforms; this remained the record for over a hundred years.[6]

In June 2009, minority leader John Boehner spoke for under two hours[α] opposing an energy bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act.[4]

In February 2018,[6] Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi used the magic minute (calling it the "leadership minute")[7] to speak for a then-record of eight hours and seven minutes,[β] calling for legislation protecting DREAMers. Much of the speech was spent reading their letters;[10] the feat was called "pretty darned impressive" by Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who highlighted her use of high heels throughout the speech.[11]

Kevin McCarthy used the magic minute to speak for over eight hours, in 2021

In November 2021, minority leader Kevin McCarthy used the magic minute to speak for eight hours and thirty-two minutes, prior to the passage of President Joe Biden's Build Back Better bill. During the speech, McCarthy mentioned how he became a Republican partly because of President Jimmy Carter's penchant for wearing sweaters[3] and how baby carrots were "just big carrots. They chop 'em and they charge you more and you buy them."[8] Other talking points included how he wished he "could have been in Tiananmen Square and ... there knocking down the Berlin Wall", and how he could not "even afford to test drive a Tesla, and Elon is one of [his] best friends."[9]

In the aftermath of McCarthy's speech, the longest in the House's modern history, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki remarked that he did not talk about climate change or child care costs, despite the length of the speech.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Sources disagree on how long the speech was, with Roll Call stating he spoke for 60 minutes[4] and The Washington Post stating he spoke for "about 90 minutes".[3]
  2. ^ Although Roll Call states she spoke for eight hours and six minutes,[4] The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Independent state she spoke for eight hours and seven minutes.[3][8][9]


  1. ^ "Floor Procedure In The U.S. House Of Representatives". Rules House. Rules House. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  2. ^ Gaudiano, Nicole (February 7, 2018). "Nancy Pelosi told DREAMer stories for more than 8 hours on the House floor". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 22, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sotomayor, Marianna; Kane, Paul; Alemany, Jacqueline (November 19, 2021). "McCarthy's overnight speech – longest in modern history – underscores rancor in the House". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 4, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Kelly, Ryan (February 7, 2018). "Nancy Pelosi Claims Record for Longest House Floor Speech". Roll Call. Archived from the original on January 2, 2022. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  5. ^ Johnson, Charles W. III; Sullivan, John V.; Wickham, Thomas J. Jr. (December 2017). "Party Organization". Precedents of the United States House of Representatives (PDF). Vol. 1. United States Government Publishing Office. pp. 288–289. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 7, 2021. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  6. ^ a b McCausland, Phil (February 8, 2018). "Pelosi sets House record with eight-hour speech backing DACA". NBC News. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  7. ^ Bowden, John (February 7, 2018). "Maxine Waters: Pelosi's speech one of 'most profound' moments in history of Congress". The Hill. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  8. ^ a b Ulloa, Jazmine (November 27, 2021). "In Kevin McCarthy's 8-hour tirade, a rambling attempt to show he can lead the rancorous Republicans". The Boston Globe. Washington. Archived from the original on January 2, 2022. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Mishra, Stuti (November 19, 2021). "Kevin McCarthy swings from Tiananmen Square and Musk to Trump not winning Nobel in rambling 8-hour speech". The Independent. Archived from the original on December 9, 2021. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  10. ^ Peoples, Steve; Fram, Alan (February 8, 2018). "Pelosi speaks for record 8 hours in favor of 'Dreamers'". AP News. Archived from the original on January 2, 2022. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  11. ^ Collins, Michael; Gaudiano, Nicole (February 8, 2018). "Paul Ryan applauds Nancy Pelosi's stamina during eight hour talk-a-thon". USA Today. Archived from the original on March 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2022.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 December 2023, at 15:04
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