Friday, May 22, 2009

Go Speed Reader Go!

For those monitoring markup of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, this week was educational in many ways. In addition to learning all you would ever want to know about woody biomass, we witnessed Congressional parliamentary procedure in all its glory.

One such parliamentary right that both the majority and minority enjoy is that, when an amendment is introduced, the author can demand that the entirety of the amendment is read. While the right is generally waived, in some instances, often when a party would like to stall continuing action on a piece of legislation, it is invoked. We saw this happen during last year's Senate debate of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, bringing debate to a halt for many hours.

In anticipation of a potential repeat, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (CA) hired a speed-reader to pinch hit for the clerk. Graciously, Ranking Member Joe Barton (TX) (eventually) waived his right to see his substitute amendment read, which many observers thought the most likely opportunity for said speed-reader.

However, Mr. Barton didn't want to send the speed-reader home without being able to showcase his talents on a national stage. Watch below for the exchange (via Talking Points Memo):