A procedural rule that allows leadership of both the majority and minority parties in the House of Representatives to have unlimited speaking time at the end of debate.
Remember the Time
As debate concludes on legislative business, the speaker, majority leader, and minority leader can be recognized for a “magic minute.” Despite the name, the magic minute gives the chamber’s three highest-ranking officials unlimited time and an unrestricted platform. This unique power is not formally codified in the House rules originally set by Thomas Jefferson. Instead, the magic minute is a tradition of the House often used as a type of substitute for the Senate’s filibuster.
Time After Time
The magic minute, while seldomly used, played a role at critical junctures for the House. The earliest example in modern history came in 1909 when Minority Leader Clark (D-MO) spoke for just over five hours in protest of proposed tax reforms. In 2018, after President Trump suspended an Obama-era program that provided DREAMers with certain protections, Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) spoke for more than eight hours to challenge the action. Minority Leader McCarthy (R-CA) broke Pelosi’s record (by about 20 minutes) when delivering a speech criticizing what would become the Inflation Reduction Act.
If I Could Turn Back Time
The magic minute played a role again last month as Congress raced to avert a government shutdown hours before the deadline. After House Republicans released their legislation only minutes before the vote to keep the government open, Democrats deployed a series of tools to give themselves additional time to read the bill. Minority Leader Jeffries (D-NY) utilized a magic minute and spoke for an hour before Democrats proceeded to vote for the bill.
Federal funding now runs out in mid-November. With the ongoing struggle among House Republicans to find a new speaker paired with the highly partisan bickering that has marked the FY2024 appropriations process, another government shutdown looms on the horizon.