628 pages — That’s how many pages are in the new $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief stimulus bill.
That’s also the very same number of pages Republican Senator Ron Johnson had a trio of Senate clerks read aloud ahead a vote-a-rama in the U.S. Senate on Thursday night into Friday morning.
Fox News reports the reading took a total of 11 hours:
You could have spent Thursday afternoon and evening thumbing through 601 pages of “East Of Eden” by John Steinbeck. There you would have read about the push for acceptance and travails of the Trask and Hamilton families.
If Steinbeck isn’t your jam, maybe you could have explored interplanetary fiefdoms in “Dune” by Frank Herbert. “Dune” clocks in at 661 pages.
Still, you could have visited the haunted, Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies, via Stephen King and “The Shining.” 659 pages in King’s opus.
But maybe you’d prefer to take a recommendation from the Senate’s “Book of the Month Club.”
The March offering came from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.: “Calendar Number 10, H.R. 1319, An Act To Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Title II of S. Con. Res. 5.”
He required a trio of Senate clerks to verbally read all 628 pages of the final version of the COVID-19 bill from the dais. The process started at 3:21 p.m. Thursday. It’s unknown if the clerks sipped Early Gray tea spiked with honey or devoured Ricola throat lozenges to get them through the oral exercises. But they didn’t finish until 2:04 a.m. Friday.
After the ordeal, Johnson thanked the trio in a tweet for their efforts.
“I would like to thank the Senate clerks who read the $1.9 trillion bill yesterday. I know it was a big job and it’s unfortunate it took 11 hours. I finally got a hard copy of the bill about an hour into the reading and followed along the entire time,” he tweeted.
I would like to thank the Senate clerks who read the $1.9 trillion bill yesterday. I know it was a big job and it’s unfortunate it took 11 hours. I finally got a hard copy of the bill about an hour into the reading and followed along the entire time.
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) March 5, 2021
— SgtPepper1964 (@SPepper1964) March 5, 2021
It should be noted that lawmakers previously required the reading of legislative bills so members knew what they were voting on. In more modern history, members of Congress are given a copy of the bill ahead of time or are provided bill summaries.