December 3, 2021

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Kevin McCarthy broke the record for floor speech in the House. But the filibuster records will astound you. – USA TODAY

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy started his speech on the floor of the House of Representatives at 8:38 p.m. and finished at 5:11 a.m., breaking the record for the longest speech on the floor.

McCarthy’s over 8-hour speech broke the previous record set by then minority leader Nancy Pelosi in 2018. Her speech lasted 8 hours and 7 minutes as she told the stories of DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they children. 

Unlike the Senate, the House has no filibuster but McCarthy acted to obstruct President Joe Biden’s spending plan, the $1.75 trillion package the president calls the Build Back Better bill. His 8 hours, 33 minutes successfully prevented Democrats from passing the package through the House on Thursday, although they passed it Friday.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) talks to reporters during his weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on November 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. McCarthy was asked about the House censuring Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) after he posted a violent animated video of himself killing Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and swinging a sword at President Joe Biden. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775739383 ORIG FILE ID: 1354043864

Using filibusters in the Senate or long speeches in the House to delay or block action on bills has a long history. So before McCarthy and Pelosi, who held the record for the longest speech on the floor and what are the longest filibusters in history?

Previous record holder:Nancy Pelosi did all-day marathon speech in heels

Changes to filibuster?:Biden says he’s open to eliminating filibuster to pass voting-rights

In 1909, Rep. Champ Clark, a Missouri congressman spoke for 5 hours and 15 minutes and held onto the record for the longest floor speech until Pelosi. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presides over House passage of President Joe Biden's expansive social and environment bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Years later, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina would go on to break the record for the longest filibuster. He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

The second longest filibuster was set by U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato of New York, who spoke for 23 hours and 30 minutes to stall a bill that would have cut off funding for a jet trainer plane built by a company headquartered in his state.

Known as “The Tiger of the Senate,” U.S. Sen. Wayne Morris started his filibuster against Tidelands Oil legislation on April 24, 1953 and concluded after 22 hours and 26 minutes.

The fourth longest filibuster in American history was done by U.S. Sen. Robert La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin, who spoke for 18 hours and 23 minutes in 1908.

At the time the Kennedy committee described Follette Sr. as a “ceaseless battler for the underprivileged” and a “courageous independent” who never wavered from his progressive reform goals,” according to the Senate.

When U.S. Sen. William Proxmire of Wisconsin was concerned about an increase of public debt ceiling in 1981, he conducted the fifth longest filibuster. He spoke for 16 hours and 12 minutes to stall action on authorizing a total debt of $1 trillion, according to the Senate.

Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda

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