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. Dexter Skagway

    Fast, efficient people have no place in government. Throw the bum out!

    May 21, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  2. Wolves 4 Palin Charlotte, NC

    Republicans wasting our tax dollars, I can't believe it!

    May 21, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. No Incumbents 2010

    Is this bill posted somewhere for transparency? I would like to read it slowly.

    May 21, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    How fast can he say "Blame Bush" in 1 minute?

    May 21, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. Agnes

    Is anyone else but me alarmed at the circus that Congress has become? Speed readers? What is next jugglers? I really don't like America sometimes.

    May 21, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  6. JJ in NY

    What's the difference? Dems don't bother to read the bills they vote for.
    They just blindly follow their ideology, like lemmings .

    May 21, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  7. dickelocker

    What a lovely, gentle, bipartisan resolution of a procedural problem.
    If only all differences could be worked out so jovially!!
    Actually, many are worked out just so. But we don't hear about it.
    The media focuses on disputes, which are more entertaining.

    May 21, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  8. wildflower

    Gotta love it! Called their bluff, and the Republicans have to wipe another stonewall tactic from their playbook. Just one question – if they made them listen to the whole thing, would that constitute torture?

    May 21, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  9. Ernie in LA

    Is this stupid or what? Washington had better enjoy their circus now because next election, things WILL change. The people have the power if they will only stick together an make it happen.

    May 21, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  10. Had It

    Leave it to a republican to drag their feet and then at the end of it vote NO anyway.

    Vote the Greedy Opposition Party out. We have a lot of work to do to clean up this mess, and we don't need any more republican crap.

    May 21, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  11. Turnabout is Fair Play

    Wanted to play stupid games to drag it out? The democrats had your number and made you back down with your little threat. Nice attempt to save face by redirecting your embarrassment to the speed reader.

    May 21, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. Lolbama

    ROFL Begala worried that republicans are going to look like! I thought James Carville was gonzo...Begala's giving him a run for his money

    May 21, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  13. Chris

    How must time and money did this cost the tax payers?

    May 21, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  14. Chris

    How much time and money did this cost the tax payers?

    May 21, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Robert Minichino

    If the Republicans had wasted the time and money to do something like that they would be raked over the coals.

    May 21, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  16. Alicia

    So Barton finds this all amusing? Sad. He probably thinks Cheney has a heart and a brain too.

    May 21, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  17. Justin Albert

    Waxman is awesome - the ugliest toughest little congressman ever!

    May 21, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  18. Carl Justus

    Hooray for Waxman, maybe the so called Cheney republicans will think, I am sorry, when did a republican think.

    The next time they try to stop legislation maybe they will ask someone about the possibility of what they might do.

    It is too bad the cannot get a some republicans that have grown up and act like lawmakers instead of anchors.

    May 21, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  19. JB in WI

    Great!!!! Another bill voted for without reading

    May 21, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  20. Texas Teacher

    Oh, come on.... what a witty little aside to the seriousness of the GOP of late.... thanks for letting us see the human side of the new irrelevant Republican Party....

    now... let's see... and this should be of interest to me because.... ?????

    May 21, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  21. JK Ashburn, VA

    Congresscreatures. What a bunch of juveniles. And they are OUR representatives. Just swell!

    May 21, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  22. skyhawkdriver

    I'm glad that these clowns are having such a great time at the taxpayers expense..can you say termlimits

    May 21, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  23. PF_Harlock

    Well, at least this time the absurdity was funny.

    May 21, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  24. phoenix86

    What a joke the dems are. They did NOT read the stimulus bill, and now another big tax bill gets presented at the 11th hour. I bet the dems are not present for this "reading" and have not read the bill either.

    Waxman is an IDIOT. Get ready for the government to institutionalize theft as they find another way into the savings of all Americans.

    We don't deserve this type of "democracy".

    May 21, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  25. Alex in Wisconsin

    That is the funniest thing coming out of congress in decades. I think it was extremely smart of the the Democratic Chairman Waxman to hire a speed reader. I think it was even smarter for the Republican Rep. Barton to back down after hearing this man read.

    May 21, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
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