NJ Senate Wants Its Own Committee To Investigate Bridge Scandal

January 13, 2014 2:33 p.m.

Following the New Jersey Assembly’s lead, the state Senate wants to get into the scandal investigation business, too.

New Jersey State Senate President Sean Sweeney (D) said Monday he wants to launch a special committee dedicated to examining September’s lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. Sweeney said he would call the Senate into session Thursday to establish the committee.

“This would be a bipartisan committee with subpoena power,” Sweeney said in a statement. “Senator Loretta Weinberg, who first challenged the Port Authority to explain the closures and who first proposed the use of subpoenas to investigate the growing scandal, will take the lead in the Senate as chair of the committee.”

Sweeney’s statement followed an announcement that the Democratic leadership of the New Jersey General Assembly intends to establish a committee to investigate the lane closures, which led to days of gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J.

The Assembly’s transportation committee initially began investigating the matter because it had subpoena power over the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, from an earlier inquiry into toll hikes.

Weinberg (pictured above), who represents a district that includes part of Fort Lee, has independently attempted to investigate the lane closures and has raised questions about whether Gov. Chris Christie (R) had a role in the order to shut the lanes. She issued a statement of her own Monday in which she said, “we need the combined expertise and experience of the Senate and the Assembly to get to the bottom of this.”

“The Assembly Transportation Committee already had subpoena power so they were best equipped to immediately pursue answers,” Weinberg said. ‚ÄúSenate President Sweeney and I both supported them. … But the issue has grown and the unanswered questions have multiplied. … This involves the abuse of power, risks to public safety, harm to interstate commerce and a possible cover-up. We need to combine the resources of both houses of the Legislature to get to the full truth.”

Sweeney said a Senate committee would “work collaboratively with our Assembly colleagues and the committee they have created.”

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