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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 04/24/2013

Is the immigration bill a long read? Shorter than most Harry Potter novels


Sen. Ted Cruz has had to beef up his reading. (Jim Lo Scalzo - EPA)
Sen. Ted Cruz seemed surprised to learn during a Tuesday hearing that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had managed to slog through all 844 pages of the new immigration bill.

He, on the other hand, apparently was finding it harder to digest such a long read in the six days since its sponsors had released it. Which seemed odd to us.

Cruz, after all, has an undergrad degree from Princeton and graduated from Harvard Law — two institutions where we’re pretty sure he tackled some heavy reading lists. And the immigration bill? Well, it isn’t really all that long.

The bill is, as Cruz claimed, 844 pages. Which might at first sound like a heavy tome.

But bear in mind that bill text isn’t like pages of a novel — or even those of a standard document. The font is bigger, the margins wider, and there are big spaces in between relatively short paragraphs. So how many words are in the bill?

We pasted the bill into a Word document, which said it contains 161,346. And that includes a number on each line — so if you subtract those, you get roughly 140,000 words.

That’s fewer than in your typical John Grisham paperback. Fewer than in most of the Harry Potter books. Heck, it’s a quarter of those in “War and Peace.” (Word counts are tough to come by, but we got the “War and Peace” figure from Politifact, which helpfully tallied them up to refute a claim once made by a senator that the health-care bill was longer than the famously verbose Russian novel.)

We figure an Ivy-educated fellow like Cruz should be able to blaze through the equivalent of a mainstream kids’ book in six days — especially since he presumably has a crack staff at his disposal who can summarize the more technical parts.

But we take his point: Senators are busy! So for the particularly time-crunched legislator, may we suggest that bill sponsors release audio versions of their measures so that their colleagues might listen to them whilst on the treadmill or on long flights?

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 04/24/2013

 
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