During the sessions of the US House of Representatives, I noticed that a time holder can either:

  • yield themselves as much time as they may consume to speak. (up to the limit defined)
  • yield a supporter of their stance a specific amount of time or as much as they may consume (up to the limit defined)
  • yield back (surrender) the balance of their time to the chair (aka forfeit their time of debate)
  • Reserve the balance of their time to use later.

In the House of Representatives, can a holder of debate time continuously reserve the balance of their time when called on?

  • I'm not sure I get what you're asking here, although it sounds like an interesting question. Are you asking whether they can use the "Reserve balance" option as many times as they want?
    – Bobson
    Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 14:54
  • That's exactly what I'm asking. I often see one member hold their time and continually reserve until they're ready to close but wondered how often can they reserve? Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


By the rules: Yes

I'm not in the habit of watching the House's activities, but according to their rules:

Except as provided in paragraph (a), a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not speak more than once to the same question with- out leave of the House.

(Rule XVII, 3b).

"Speak more than once" is a bit deceiving. It refers to the Representative being recognized to speak. The general flow of this process is contained in Rule XVII 2. When the speaker is recognized they are allotted 1 hour or less. This 1 hour can be broken up into multiple segments.

There is no reason to think that a person couldn't (for whatever reason) continually reserve their time.

More Practically

Rules aside, why would they? Legislatures are extremely time-crunched. Once it becomes clear that there is no strategic value to holding on to that time, generally they will yield.

Again, the rules are not laws, but internal rules which the House or Speaker can suspend at times. If the Speaker felt like the rules were being abused, there are measures that can be taken to work around the offending Representative.

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