May 21st, 2009
10:01 PM ET
14 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. ken

    How much money does a stunt like this waste?

    May 21, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. Franky

    Those freaking bastards, here's a guy who just reads fast and here I am hooking everybody, and I read everything! That's it, I'm done with this! Dems are gonna get a bill for me, I've been hooking them up lately, getting tired of them taking advantage of for the GOP...they know what they should do, LOL!!

    That's it Dems, I'm done!! You're gonna hear from my lawyer...after the dynasty, the dynasty, LOL!!

    May 21, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. ken

    Here's an idea, everyone has to read the entire bill and get quizzed on it before they vote for it. Their job is to vote on laws and know what they're voting on. It's stupid that these bills are hundreds of pages long and no one ever reads them.

    May 21, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  4. The Broker.

    CNN's Back to the Front. Heads up their Tails review.

    May 21, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  5. BETH

    It's sickening the way the Republicans act like spoiled little rich kids. Enough already!

    May 21, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  6. Jamie

    Bravo! This was a great story and a good end to a stupid Republican ploy to obstruct (as usual). It's great to have some good humor around once in awhile.

    May 21, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  7. SLM

    You wouldn't want to take your time and read it. Dems want it passed before anyone can figure out how much this is going to cost us and before we realize they're reacting without a real plan. They want all this spending rushed through before we protest.

    May 21, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. fools, fooled by obama

    Liberal Cowards.

    May 21, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. Peter E

    If a bill is 900 pages long it should just be broken apart so that Congress can rationally consider its parts. There is no sense in making it that long other than feeding their own corruption of sliding every unrelated rider onto that bill. There should be a law limiting bills to at most 100 pages each!

    May 21, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. DaBird

    You don't need a speed reader if you aren't lying to the people. Obama PROMISED 72 hours before signing anything. He has already lied twice. Lie #3 coming up soon.

    May 21, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  11. Willy Brown

    Now how fast will he say blame bush in?

    May 21, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  12. Franky

    "The Chinese save more than us and invest even more in infrastructure. Can they overtake us in the world stage?"

    Ohh crap, I was afraid no one would find out, how about that Communism, huh? LOL!!

    May 21, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  13. Gennie

    Republican Joe Barton came off looking like a fool.

    May 21, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  14. john


    That was soooo funny!!

    May 21, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  15. Steve (the real one)

    Yet another sad, pathetic waste of out tax money! they act as if governance is a joke! These clowns must go (some on both sides of the aisle)! They could give a rat's furry behind about us and this country!

    May 21, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  16. RealityKing

    Apparently elected democrats can't read..., progressive education at its best?

    May 21, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. Mishajohn

    And just how much did the Republican's publicity stunt cost the American taxpayer? Rep. Barton should pay out of his own pocket any extra costs – the speedreader's fee and expenses, extra staff time, etc. – incurred. The taxpayers shouldn't shoulder the costs of this bozo's bad idea.

    May 21, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. RealityKing

    "He spoke so quickly it was impossible to decipher his words"

    Is this the same guy that read Nancy the CIA briefings?

    May 21, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Jimmy the Greek

    Instead of a bill being given time to be read, considered, debated – Democrats look for any way to RAM through their legislation.

    If any ask for the bill to be read (as is the law) Waxman hires an incoherent speed reader.

    Either way – no one understands the meaning of the legislation... simply that Dems want it and are tired of the GOP "meddling" by asking a review!

    May 21, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. Henry

    I am amazed congressional Democ-rats are intelligent enough to come up with this speed reader idea. However, they are not able to come up with legitimate ways to creatively stimulate the economy. The powers of political creativity are amazing.

    May 21, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  21. Minnesotan

    More pathetic Republican games. Glad to see yet another one backfire on them. Give it up, guys. You've done nothing right in over eight years. What makes you think that the public isn't sick and tired of your insipid ideas and failed policies?

    May 21, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  22. CNN watchdog

    Can the Democraps make their position any clearer?
    They are not interested in reading or having anyone read the things they vote on. They want to disappear into the back rooms an slip things into these bills. Then after no one reads the bills, they pass them anyway. After the bills are passed, no one can figure out who slipped the pork in.....

    May 21, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. Chris McTaggart

    You got to love the resourcefulness of Rep. Waxman! It made me chuckle!
    They stood up to the bully from Texas and called his bluff... I love it.

    May 21, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  24. m smith

    Great Idea. Lets see what the repos make of this report.

    May 21, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  25. Cynthia - Arkansas

    I love this! So much for the Republican great scheme. Better luck next time.

    May 21, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
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