May 21st, 2009
10:01 PM ET
5 years ago

Speed reader makes Hill debut


WASHINGTON (CNN) - The congressional speed reader made his committee debut Thursday - but it looks like his brief taste of the limelight may mark his Capitol Hill swan song.

The top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce committee, Texas Rep. Joe Barton, has been threatening to force the committee clerk to read the 900-plus page bill as a way to drag out the markup of the Democrats' climate change legislation. Worried that this could jeopardize his goal of voting the bill out of committee before the Memorial Day break, Democratic Chairman Henry Waxman of California hired a speed reader, in case one was needed to publicly race through the massive bill.

Barton decided not to follow through on his threat - but he wanted to find out what a speed reader sounded like. He requested that one of the Republican amendments be read in full, and asked that the new hire take over for the full time committee clerk. Waxman obliged, and Douglas Wilder sat before the committee and began reading rapidly. He spoke so quickly it was impossible to decipher his words, as listeners began to laugh and applaud.

Barton decided he'd heard enough, and said he didn't need to finish. He then joked with Waxman, that since he went to all that trouble, "we should at least get the benefit of the gentleman's expertise." Smiling, Waxman asked Wilder to state his name and asked if he was available for hire. Wilder enthusiastically told the committee: "yes!"


Filed under: Henry Waxman • House Democrats
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Robin

    Is this really how they spend their time and our money?

    May 21, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. Cole

    This, this is how they are spending our money? Would they please stop screwing around and do some work?! If he has never heard a speed reader then go to youTube like everyone else.

    May 21, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  3. Yaright

    this is what our tax dollars pay for; lots of fun fun fun

    May 21, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  4. Jake

    I wonder who paid for the speed reader...I am betting it was the American taxpayer.

    May 21, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  5. Nick

    It's nice to know that people think it's a joke that lawmakers should read the bills before they vote on them.

    The need to pass the read the bills act, as well as the one law at a time act, but I doubt it will happen; can't do anything that would make too much sense

    May 21, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  6. GOPer

    Lovely – Let's keep passing laws without reading the bills! What the hell is going on here???

    May 21, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  7. thomas lybbert

    why didn't the democrats bring in a speed reader to go through the spendulous bill in order to bring transparency to that 1.7 trillion dollar piece of crap. you democrats do remember obama said he would allow time for people to read the legislation before he signed it. in this case he only allowed hours.

    May 21, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  8. stunts like this make me have less faith in govt.

    this is completely NOT what this country was founded for

    Did the framers and after engage in circus like this... absolutely... is it a waste of time, money and shake the faith of the public... absolutely

    the only good thing, the Rubs and Dems laughed together

    May 21, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  9. jayjayaye Utah

    How sad! Yet more Republican clowning, with the same effect as having Dick Cheney train them in how to shoot themselves in their feet

    May 21, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  10. John

    this is stupid.

    May 21, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  11. darko

    What a mockery of our govt. It now seems it is 'wrong' to want legislation read. After the tarp and stimulus, you'd think they'd have learned.

    Funny how every single bill introduced must be passed in record speed so that the president can then take his sweet time in signing it.

    May 21, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  12. bigboxes

    From a fellow Texan, Barton sucks.

    May 21, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  13. DAVE N CA

    wow for as smart as all think Liberals are you would have to assume that these senile old blow hards could read there own environmental bill that is going to destroy what's left of the U.S. industry...... priceless....

    May 21, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  14. Pat, CA

    Are speed readers sort of like Obama's teleprompter?

    I think so, I also think Waxman - a U.S. Senator - should have the capacity to READ a bill on his own!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But what do I know! I'm just an average American who manages to muddle through the day on her own, reading all t he stuff that comes her way WITHOUT "speed readers"!

    May 21, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  15. Proud DHS radical

    What a joke as is all our politcians. Time to boot them all out regardless of party.

    May 21, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  16. Charles W. Skinner

    Does it actually classify as being read into committee if no one can understand it? The news report indicates that it was impossible to decipher.

    I smell as "substance over form" argument brewing here against future use.

    May 21, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  17. Dorothy

    I do not understand how our Congress can pass a bill, whether 900 pages or 9,000 pages without reading it. This has come up before. We elect our Congressmen & women & Senators to help the President rule and protect our country and it seems to me we have a circus with Rep Barton being the biggest clown.
    Our country is in such a miserable mess and it seems to me everyone should be buckling down and working together to help get it straightened out. I cannot even imagine the money and time wasted in Washington.

    May 21, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  18. CHANGE.COM

    Ahhh, the obstructionist attitude outsmarted by Waxman. Way to go, man!

    May 21, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  19. Ex-republican

    Yes, Democrats gave a good idea to repugs, again!

    May 21, 2009 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  20. rumrunner

    a speed reader? really, am i the only one who just doesn't GET this?

    May 21, 2009 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  21. TCM

    what a travesty for the American people. The republican didn't want to pass the bill before reading...but the liberal pukes like Waxman will rubber stamp anything..
    We as tax payers shouldn't stand for this. Liberals, this is your doing, you elected these idiots like Waxman...reap what you sow.

    May 22, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  22. matt lyons

    its good to see some bipartisan humanity if even for a short time

    May 22, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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