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The Speaker’s Long One Minute

July 31, 2013

By tradition in the House, the Speaker, along with the majority and minority leaders, are allowed to speak as long as they want. They are provided one minute to speak, but they often take longer. Minority Whip Hoyer, who no longer has this privilege, referred to this as the “magic minute.” On June 26, 2009, Minority Leader Boehner spoke for an hour under his one minute. He read parts of the energy bill that the Democrats had brought to the floor.

Since the Speaker and minority leader have different floor roles, we decided to compare the time that Speakers Pelosi and Boehner each spoke in two years as speaker. That way we are comparing two Speakers and their use of floor speeches. For Pelosi we use the 111th Congress (2009-10) and for Boehner, the 112th Congress (2011-12). The results can be seen here.

Speaker Congress Speeches Average Total Time
Pelosi 111th 79 5:41 min 7:29 hours
Boehner 112th 30 2:57 min 1:32 hours

On every measure, Speaker Pelosi is practically double Boehner’s times. In total time speaking, she spoke over seven hours where Boehner spoke only about two hours. Other studies conducted here show Pelosi as the most vocal floor activist as Speaker of the House. We exclude their acceptance speeches on being elected speaker and focus on their floor speeches.

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