Opportunities To Speak
This section explains the opportunities members have available to speak on any subject of his or her choosing outside of the time traditionally reserved for debating bills. These times are known as “Morning Hour,” “One-Minute speeches,” and “Special Orders.” For additional information, please contact the Republican Cloakroom (x57350).
Morning Hour debate (also known as Five-Minute speeches)
A period is set aside at the beginning of the day for members to address the House for up to five minutes on any topic of their choosing. On the first legislative day of the week, Morning Hour begins at 12:00 p.m. and in no event extends past 1:50 p.m. On the middle days of the legislative week, Morning Hour begins at 10:00 a.m. and in no event extends past 11:50 a.m. Members are recognized alternating between majority and minority members on a rotating basis. There will be no Morning Hour debate on the last legislative day of the week.
A member has two opportunities to address the House in a One-Minute speech: 1) Immediately following the Pledge of Allegiance, or 2) At the end of the legislative day. Please be advised that members may only be recognized for one One-Minute speech per day. At the beginning of the week, the Speaker of the House will announce how many One-Minutes will be allowed each day during the first opportunity to speak, prior to the start of legislative business. The number of One-Minutes at the end of each legislative day is never limited. A One-Minute speech may be on any topic; however, members may be interested in speaking on a weekly theme provided by Conference.
When it is the Member's turn, the Chair will say, "For what purpose does the gentleman/gentlelady from (State) seek recognition?" The Member should first address the chair directly and say, "I seek unanimous consent to address the House for one minute, and to revise and extend my remarks." At this point, the Chair will say, "Without objection," and the Member may approach the microphone and begin their One-Minute speech.
After legislative business and the final period of One-Minutes, members have the opportunity to take part in Special Order speeches. Both parties will be allowed one “Leadership Hour” and two half-hour Special Orders each day, time permitting. The majority and minority alternate who controls the first hour each day, and each subsequent block of time alternates between the majority and minority. Under no circumstances will Special Orders be allowed to run past 10:00 p.m.
On the day of, the Speaker's floor staff will confirm with the member that he or she still plans to use their time. Occasionally, the assigned member may decline to control the Leadership Hour or an assigned half-hour, at which time the floor staff will contact another member on the list or other members who have expressed interest in controlling the time. ANY MEMBER WHO SIGNS UP AND CONFIRMS CONTROLLING THE TIME MUST BE ON THE FLOOR IN ORDER TO CLAIM THAT TIME. The floor staff will monitor how time is progressing and contact the next member on the list, providing the Member with an approximate time when their Special Order will begin. If the member is not on the floor when it is their turn to be recognized, the time is forfeited and can lead to forfeiture of all subsequent Special Orders, resulting in the House adjourning for the day.
How does a member reserve time to speak?
Five-Minute and One-Minute speeches cannot be reserved and are doled out on a first come, first served basis. For Special Orders, Members wishing to reserve the Leadership Hour should contact Cyrus Artz in the Conference Secretary's Office at (x52071). Please note that the Leadership Hour is reserved for members who wish to speak on a topic that is consistent with the House Republican message. For half-hours, members should contact the Republican Cloakroom (x57350) to reserve a slot up to one week in advance of the day the member wishes to speak.
How can a member get a written speech inserted in the Congressional Record when the member is unable to actually give the Speech on the Floor?
Members can submit written statements to the Congressional Record on any bill considered by the House within five legislative days of the bill’s consideration, commonly known as “general leave.” Members may also insert written statements on any desired topic in the Extension of Remarks section of the Congressional Record. Both Extensions of Remarks and General Leave documents are limited to two printed pages of the Congressional Record which is roughly equivalent to five single-spaced typed pages. These written materials must bear the original signature of the submitting member. Floor staff cannot accept faxed or electronic copies of Extension of Remarks or General Leave Statements. Staff should bring the statements to the Cloakroom or directly to the Reporters of Debate (HT-59) while the House is in session. In addition to the hard copy, an electronic copy may be sent to the Reporters of Debate to help ensure that the member’s statement is printed properly. Click here for instructions on how to submit electronic copies. In order to insert something into the Congressional Record which is longer than the two-page limit, the member must obtain a cost estimate from GPO and get unanimous consent to get the materials inserted into the Record. For further information, please call the Office of Official Reporters at (x55621).
Bills / Cosponsors
To introduce a bill, please staple or clip all pages of the bill together and have the sponsoring Member sign the bill in the upper right-hand corner of the front page. If a Member wishes to submit a cosponsor sheet with the bill, please clip it to the front of the bill. Please remember that all bills and joint resolutions will also require a signed Constitutional Authority Statement to be attached. You can download the Constitutional Authority Statement form here (PDF provided by the House Office of Legislative Counsel for Congressional Offices only). Bills and Constitutional Authority Statements without the member's signature will not be accepted.
Adding Cosponsors to a Bill/Cosponsor sheets
Members may add a cosponsor to a bill by downloading a cosponsor sheet from the Web site of the House Republican Cloakroom or the Office of the Clerk. The cosponsor form allows Members to add up to 40 cosponsors to a bill. If more space is needed, please download another form and staple the two together. Please provide the date, session of Congress and bill number in the appropriate spaces. If Members cannot provide the bill number, please provide the title of the bill. Cosponsors on the sheet will appear on the bill in the numerical order in which they are written. If a Member obtains signatures that are hand-written from other Members and are difficult to read, please print the name of the Member beside the signature. Members should sign the cosponsor sheet on the signature line or in the upper right-hand corner. Cosponsor sheets without the Member’s signature will not be accepted.
How to Submit
Staff may send Bills and Cosponsor sheets to the House Republican Cloakroom via inside mail or bring them to the Floor while the House is in session and give the material to Chamber Security personnel at the Main Door to the Chamber. During Special Orders and Recesses the materials may be dropped off in the Speaker’s Lobby. Chamber Security personnel will ensure the material is given to the Cloakroom.
Extensions / General Leave
Extension of Remarks
Members may insert statements in the Extension of Remarks section of the Congressional Record. These statements may be on any subject and typically range from tributes to a local High School sports team to outlining a Members position on an upcoming piece of legislation.
Extensions of remarks are limited to two printed pages of the Congressional record which is roughly equivalent to five single-spaced typed pages.
During consideration of legislation, debate time is limited. In order to accommodate Members who are unable to obtain time or, for other reasons, unable to be present on the Floor to make their remarks in person, the Majority manager of a bill will request unanimous consent (referred to as General Leave) for all Members to have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks in the Congressional Record.
There is no limit to a Member’s original words but extraneous material (anything other than a Member’s original words such as a letter from a constituent, newspaper or magazine articles, or reports) are limited to two printed pages of the Congressional Record which is roughly five single-spaced pages or ten double-spaced pages. Footnotes, pictures, charts, table, and graphs will not be printed.
How to Submit
Material for the Congressional Record must bear the original signature of the submitting Member. For that reason the Cloakroom cannot accept faxed or electronic copies of Extensions or General Leave Statements.
Staff may bring material for the Congressional Record to the Floor while the House is in session and give it to the Chamber Security personnel at the Main Door to the Chamber. During Special Orders and Recesses the materials may be dropped off in the Speaker’s Lobby. Chamber Security personnel will ensure the material is given to the Cloakroom.
In addition to the hard copy, an electronic copy may be sent to the Reporters of Debates to help ensure that the Member’s statement is printed properly. Click here for instructions on how to submit electronic copies.
In order to insert something into the Congressional Record which is longer than the two-page limit, a cost estimate from GPO must be obtained and a separate unanimous consent request made. For further information, please call the Office of Official Reporters at 202 225-5621.
Leave of Absence
If a Member is absent and misses votes for a substantial period of time, the Member or his staff may request a Leave of Absence from the House. Upon request, the Cloakroom staff will complete a Leave of Absence form which states the dates of the Member’s absence and the reason for his/her absence. The form is signed by the Republican Leader and laid before the House at the conclusion of legislative business for the day.
Decades ago, an absent Member was fined by the House unless he or she was granted a Leave of Absence. That is no longer the case; however, Members may wish to file a Leave of Absence as it is printed in the Congressional Record and announces the reason for one’s absence. Members may choose reasons that are general, such as “official business” or “illness,” or something more specific such as “having my appendix removed” or “inspecting damage in the district from Hurricane Katrina.” Members may not use political reasons for an absence. Members may choose not to request a Leave of Absence if he/she believes it would draw unnecessary attention to his/her absence.
Whether or not one chooses to request a Leave of Absence, a Member may wish to prepare a statement on how he/she would have voted on the votes that were missed. These statements, like any statement for the Congressional Record, must bear an original signature of the Member. If a statement is submitted to the Cloakroom within a few hours of the missed vote, it will be printed in the Record immediately following that vote. A typical statement would be:
Mr. Speaker, on Roll Call #____ on the ______ amendment on HR 12234, I am not recorded (because I was absent due to illness.) Had I been present, I would have voted (Aye/nay.)
In addition to the above, Members should notify the Republican Whip of their absence.
Legislative Procedures and Rules
The Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress has many excellent resources describing legislative procedures; a few of the basics are linked here. Please consult the Congressional Research Service’s Web site for additional information.
“How Measures Are Brought to the House Floor: A Brief Introduction” (RS20067)
“The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction” (95-563 GOV)
“Suspension of the Rules in the House: Principal Features” (98-314 GOV)
“Committee of the Whole: An Introduction” (RS20147)
“Floor Consideration of Conference Reports in the House” (98-736 GOV)
“Parliamentary Reference Sources: House of Representatives” (RL30787)
Most Members carry pagers to notify them when votes start in the House Chamber. Although the Cloakroom makes the vote announcements, the House Office Services Center under the CAO is the office that coordinates repairs and replacement purchases. They are located in B-227 of the Longworth Building and can be reached by dialing extension 5-3994
The Majority Whip's office sends out periodic updates on the legislative activity of the day to Member’s blackberries. These updates include information on current floor activity and when votes are expected. To be included in these updates please contact Ben Howard in the Republican Whip's Office at extension 5-0197.
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