2 Panels Probing Bridgegate Merged Into One - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

2 Panels Probing Bridgegate Merged Into One

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Facing charges of overkill, Democratic State Lawmakers in New Jersey today led the vote to merge assembly and senate committees probing the closure of traffic lanes leading to The George Washington Bridge. The apparent political dirty trick has been labeled "Bridgegate".

The effort will look into the closure is prompting predictable partisan squabbling.

Fox 29's Bruce Gordon says the newly merged committee is made up of eight Democrats and four Republicans. It will not shock you to learn the first two votes taken by the panel Monday afternoon, where 8-to-4, on a straight party line. The votes to merge state senate and assembly committees probing the call, by a Christie staffer, to disrupt traffic by closing lanes leading from Fort Lee to the George Washington bridge last September were unanimous.

But Republican lawmakers wrangled with Democrats over just about every detail of the new joint-committee like its leadership: two co-chairs, both Democrats.

"Let's include a third individual- call it a leadership committee. Make that person a Republican," Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R) Monmouth County said.

"I don't think there's any need to change the format that we've used for as long as anyone can remember, for how committees are chaired," Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) Middlesex County said.

The Assembly investigating committee had already met once prompting a complaint from a GOP member.

"At that first meeting, I must confess, it felt an awful lot more like being an audience member than being a committee member," Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R) Morris County said.

The Republicans' message was clear: Democrats would use this new committee to slam the Christie administration with an ever-widening and never-ending investigation to which the Democrats replied...

"This is not a witch hunt! We know one thing for certain- there's been an abuse of power. We all know that," Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D) Camden County.

The wrangling continued as the newly merged committee held its first session re-issuing subpoenas seeking documents from Christie staffers and Port Authority Officials.

State Senator Loretta Weinberg who represents Fort Lee, refused to rule out a look at other alleged wrongdoing.

"We will go wherever those documents take us. Right now we are looking at the George Washington bridge- the lane closures, which created havoc and safety issues for thousands of people," Weinberger said.

It was the first batch of subpoenas from that assembly investigating committee that produced the smoking-gun email from Christie's Former Deputy Chief of staff that read "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Responses to the second batch of subpoenas are due February 3rd circle that date for what could be another round of fireworks.

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