After speaking for eight hours and 32 minutes, California House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ended his marathon opposition speech to the Democrats’ social policy bill early on Friday morning, breaking Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s record for the longest continuous House speech in modern history.
About halfway through his monologue, Mr. McCarthy said, “Personally, I didn’t think I could go this long. Finally, at 5 a.m., he completed his work. He said, “With that, Madam Speaker, I resign.”
President Obama’s $1.85 trillion social policy and climate change bill has been a target of ire from Republicans like Rep. Joe McCarthy, the House’s most powerful Republican.
Before Mr. McCarthy took over to deliver a sometimes rambling speech filled with Republican talking points against the legislation and punctuated with riffs about history, the bill debate was scheduled to last 20 minutes.
Some of you are upset with him because you believe he spoke too long, he acknowledged at one point. “However, I’ve had it. “The United States of America has had it.”
With no sign of relinquishing control of the House floor after midnight on Friday, Democratic leaders sent lawmakers home with a plan to return at 8am on Saturday and finish debate and vote on the sprawling package of reforms.
McCarthy used the so-called magic minute rule, which allows the House speaker, majority leader, and minority leader to speak for as long as they want despite the lack of a Senate filibuster equivalent in the House. When she was minority leader in 2018, Nancy Pelosi employed this strategy to speak for just over eight hours about the Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants.
As far back as 1909, it was believed that Ms. Pelosi’s speech set a record for the chamber’s longest continuous speech.
On Twitter, Maryland Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin wrote: “It is an epic feat to speak for four hours straight and not produce a single memorable phrase, original insight or joke.” McCarty considers himself a wise man, but his actions have shown him to be only partially correct.