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John Boehner Takes Over the Floor to Read Cap-and-Trade Amendments

6:05 PM, Jun 26, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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The House held several hours of debate today on the cap-and-trade bill, which grew by a whopping 300 pages overnight, with a vote planned for this evening.

Just as things were wrapping up, Rep. John Boehner took the floor for his several minutes to speak. When he surpassed his five minutes, and went cruising on past 20, Rep. Henry Waxman interjected with a parliamentary question (somewhat paraphrased, but close):

"I know we have these magic minutes that allow leaders to speak forever, but is there a limit on how long he can speak, under parliamentary prodedure," he asked.

The chair, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, answered the California Democrat disappointingly: "It is the custom of the House to hear the leader."

Boehner then went on to read from the 300+ pages of amendments added to the 1,200-page at 3:09 a.m., berating the Congress for the irresponsible way it was approaching the mammoth bill:

"Don't you think the American people expect us to understand what's in this bill before we vote on it," he asked. "I hate to do this to all of you, but when you file 300-pg amendment at 3:09 in the morning, someone has to work on it. I've been working on it today, and I'm gonna make sure you understand what's in this."

Right now, he's still talking with no signs of slowing down. The reading of the bill is an edifying end to an embarrassing day on the floor, during which there was a lengthy debate between Tauscher, bill co-sponsor Rep. Ed Markey, and Republican Rep. Joe Barton on whether there was even a copy of the final version of the bill available for lawmakers to see (not that they'd read it).

The Democrats were hoping for a vote this afternoon. Guess we'll see how long Boehner can talk.