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Quickly now, We’ve got an agenda to pass

May 21, 2009

Need for Speed (Read) to Pass Climate Bill
Article: Wall Street Journal

Democrats in the House Energy and Commerce Committee have taken a novel precaution to head off Republican efforts to slow action this week on a sweeping climate bill. They are hiring a speed reader.

Republicans on the committee have said they may force the reading of the entire 946-page bill — as well as major amendments that measure several hundred pages — all aloud. This is a procedure lawmakers have a right to invoke. Republicans are largely against the bill, which aims to cut emissions of so-called greenhouse gases by more than 80% over the next half-century but would be costly.

Republicans haven’t tried the tactic, but Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) is prepared.

A committee spokeswoman said the speed reader — a young man who was on door duty at the hearing as he awaited a call to the microphone — was hired to help staffers. After years of practice, the panel’s clerks can read at a good clip. But the speed reader is a lot faster, she said.

“Judging by the size of the amendments, I can read a page about every 34 seconds,” said the newly hired staff assistant, who declined to give his name. Based on that estimate, it would take him about nine hours.

It took the committee more than two hours Tuesday to debate and vote on the first proposed amendment. By the time Capitol Hill interns finally left for tacos and happy-hour drinks at the local Mexican restaurant, the panel had approved just three amendments. Among them was a proposal to give government subsidies to people who trade in old cars or trucks for new, more efficient ones.

Mr. Waxman has said he still hopes to finish the bill by Thursday, meeting his goal of moving the climate bill out of committee by Memorial Day.

“He’s dreaming. It ain’t going to happen,” said Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the panel’s ranking Republican. He added that Republicans “have 400 amendments that we could offer, but there are at least 75-80 that we almost have to offer.”

Oh so comforting. Let’s hire someone ELSE to read this. HURRY, FOOL. Just read every other page. The details aren’t important. GO GO GO.

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