Most people refer to Rep. Billy Long as “Congressman,” but it seems the Missouri Republican is more proud of another title given to fast-talkers who sometimes wield gavels: colonel.
That’s the honorary title given to practitioners of the art of auctioneering. Long took to the House floor Wednesday to sing the praises of his tongue-twisting profession and to debut legislation that would designate the third Saturday in April as National Auctioneer Day. His co-sponsor is Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), who is also an auctioneer.
Long rattled off plenty of fun facts (who knew that there were an estimated 20,000 auctioneers in the U.S. and that the trade has been around for 2,000 years?).
Most impressively, though, he launched into a demonstration of the skills of his trade, using the federal deficit as an example. HOH’s quotes won’t do justice to the delivery, but he started at $5.5 trillion and, after dispatching some lightning-fast verbiage, wound up with a triumphant, “Sold, at $14 trillion!”
“Fortunately, we can say those numbers backward,” he said, referring to a skill auctioneers must master. “So when we get the spending under control, I’ll be back.”
After his speech, Long consoled HOH by telling us that we weren’t the only ones having trouble putting his words on paper. “Even the stenographers couldn’t keep up,” he joked. “You think they would be used to fast-talkers working in the U.S. Congress.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.