Speed Reader Brings Levity to 'Cap and Trade'
By David Fahrenthold
One sign that long days of debating may have gotten to the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: they were briefly transfixed by a demonstration of speed-reading.
Democratic leaders have pledged to get a bill capping U.S. greenhouse gases out of committee before Memorial Day, but they were worried that Republicans might throw a parliamentary wrench in the works, and ask that the entire 900-plus-page bill be read aloud.
To be ready, the Democrats hired -- apparently, only temporarily -- a speed-reader onto the committee's clerk staff.
As it turned out, he wasn't needed: after days of seeing their amendments defeated, Republicans agreed Wednesday that they would not ask for the reading.
But Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), the ranking Republican, said he was curious. So, when he introduced a new amendment this afternoon, he requested that Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) have it read as a demonstration.
"The speed-reader clerk will read the bill," Waxman said, giving in.
"Now, I want him to read in a Texas accent," added Barton.
The speed-reader, who gave his name as "Douglas Wilder" (committee staff would not make him available for an interview), gamely started in a kind of speed-drawl. The room broke up.
"Let's have order!" Waxman said.
The speed-reader then read in a normal, but very fast, voice -- some people might have been reminded of an auctioneer, children of the 1980s and '90s would have thought of the MicroMachines Man. He had only reached the bill's table of contents when the applause started. Barton said that was enough.
Waxman then said that Wilder was available, if anyone needed to hire a speed-reader.
"This bill's created one job!" somebody in the room yelled.
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