Washington politicians finally meet someone who can fast-talk them
Democrats in the House Energy and Commerce Committee had a secret weapon — a speed-reader — who they were prepared to pull out in case Republicans forced the public reading of a nearly 1,000-page climate change bill and lengthy amendments that have been debated all week.
The procedural maneuver to delay progress on the bill had been threatened by Republicans, who oppose the “cap and trade” program Democrats constructed to gradually reduce industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In the end, Republicans didn’t resort to the delay.
But not wanting to waste the talents of the speed-reader Chairman Henry Waxman hired, the committee gave Douglas Wilder his moment in the sun by asking him to read out loud hundreds of pages contained in a Republican counter-proposal that everyone knew was doomed.
Sporting an orange-colored shirt, patterned tie and brushed-back hair, Wilder took off, sounding almost like an auctioneer.
The words flew by, sometimes almost unintelligible and too fast for even the most competent note-takers in the hearing room filled with lawmakers, lobbyists and journalists.
“Section one…short title…energy production and conservation act…table of contents…federal…efficiency…”
After about 40 seconds, Joe Barton, the senior Republican on the committee who played along with the moment of levity, signalled he had enough of the fast-talking Wilder.
Amid a burst of applause and laughter that rippled through the room, Barton folded. “I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with,” said the Texan in his soft drawl. “If he’ll just work on his accent a bit, he’ll have a bright future,” Barton said.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Waxman at a House hearing)