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Monday, February 11, 2013

One-Minute Speeches: Current House Practices

Judy Schneider
Specialist on the Congress

Recognition for one-minute speeches (commonly called “one minutes”) in the House of Representatives is the prerogative of the Speaker. A period for one minutes usually takes place at the beginning of the legislative day after the daily prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and approval of the previous day’s Journal. During this time, Representatives ask unanimous consent to address the House for one minute on a topic of their choice. In addition, one-minute speeches are often permitted after legislative business ends, but before special order speeches begin.

The rules of the House do not provide for one-minute speeches. Instead, one minutes have evolved as a unanimous consent practice of the chamber. During one-minute speeches, Members must abide by the rules of the House, the chamber’s precedents, and the “Speaker’s announced policies,” in that order. The term “Speaker’s announced policies” refers to the Speaker’s policies on certain aspects of House procedure, such as recognition for one minutes.

Representatives seeking recognition for one minutes sit in the first row on their party’s side of the chamber. From the chair’s vantage point, Republican Members sit on the left side of the chamber and Democratic Members on the right side. The chair moves from his right to left in recognizing Members on each side of the aisle. When recognized by the chair, individual Members ask unanimous consent to address the House for one minute and to revise and extend their remarks. Permission is almost always granted. Members deliver one-minute speeches from the well of the chamber. They are limited to one minute and cannot ask unanimous consent for additional time. Instead of delivering a one-minute speech on the House floor, a Member may ask unanimous consent to insert the speech in the House section of the Congressional Record.

Members need not reserve one-minute speeches in advance through their party’s leadership. Nevertheless, the party leadership communication arms—known as the “Democratic Message Group” and the “Republican Theme Team”—sometimes coordinate party Members to deliver one minutes on the issue designated as the party’s daily message. These party Members usually receive priority seating for recognition purposes.

Date of Report: January 23, 2013
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RL30135
Price: $29.95

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