From NBC's Kelly Paice
Calling all speed readers! How long is long enough for legislators on the Hill to read the final health care reform bill?
PolitiFact reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has requested that the bill be available online 72 hours--three days--before a vote. However, Republicans aren't buying it: "Three days is an embarrassment," said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). "It shows how embarrassed these Democrats are of their bill. They know this health care bill is radioactive with the American public and if they give the American public more than three days to read this bill, all hell might break loose and they might never get this bill actually passed and done." Instead, Rep. Bachmann called for a three month timeframe to review the bill.
So how long is it actually going to take Congress to read the bill? PolitiFact reports that the average adult can read passages aloud at an average rate of 154 words per minute, according U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, which means that it would take the average person six hours per day to read the House version of the bill that came in at about 163,000 words. Though, most people read faster silently, therefore taking a silent reader about seven to 13 hours to fully read the House bill. If you had the special talent of being a speed reader, however, PolitiFact writes that it would take only two or three hours to read the same bill!
Norman Ornstein, a political analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, weighed the two sides of the reading time debate. On one hand, the more time Congress has to read the bill, the more time opponents have to take passages out of context and advertise that to the public; however, more time also allows Congress to "engage in a more deliberative process," Ornstein suggests.