At Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) questioned Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on whether she actually read the bill she was testifying about before her appearance at the hearing.
With Napolitano having to focus most of her attention on the terrorist attacks in Boston, Cruz wondered where she found the time to read the legislation. She said she did read the bill, but Cruz joked that must have made a “busy weekend” for Napolitano.
Here’s a transcript of the exchange:
Cruz: “I’d like to ask questions both dealing with process on this legislation and then also dealing with border security, starting with process. My office received the text of this bill at 2:25 a.m. on Wednesday April 17, five days ago. The bill is 844 pages long. It is dealing with a very complicated topic. My first question is, when did your office receive a copy of the bill as was filed?”
Napolitano: “About three o’clock in the morning, that’s about right.”
Cruz: “In the five days since then, when you have obviously been heavily focused on matters such as the Boston bombing and quite properly focused on matters such as that, have you had the time to read all 844 pages in the bill?”
Napolitano: “Actually, I have read the bill. I know many sections of the bill fairly well so I was able to skim those sections but I have been able to review the bill, yes sir.”
Cruz: “Okay, then that has been a busy weekend for you?”
Napolitano: “Yes sir. Very busy.”
Later in the hearing, when Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) corrected an erroneous page number and section number citation she made from the bill during earlier questioning, Napolitano said she has “read the bill” but that she has “not memorized the pages.”
As Craig Bannister at CNS News notes, officials “would need nearly three full days to read it – if they never stopped to eat, sleep, or do anything else.”
The bill is 844 pages long, and it takes the average person at least five minutes to read one page of technical language. Bannister points out that it would take lawmakers and officials “4,220 minutes to read the bill (5 x 844 = 4,220). Divide that by 60 minutes and you get 70.3 hours.”
“Divide 70.3 hours by 24, and it would take 2.93 days for a congressman to read the entire immigration bill – if he started and didn’t stop until he finished,” Bannister wrote.