Debate on the House floor was abruptly halted today after House Democrats tried to bring up a resolution that calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Gov. Corbett's handling (when he was state Attorney General) of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
The resolution was introduced nearly a year ago, but has been stuck ever since in the House Rules committee, which is chaired by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny).
House Democrats decided that today was the day to try and force discussion on the measure through something called a discharge resolution. The minute it was brought up, Republican House Speaker Sam Smith (R., Jefferson) swiftly adjourned the chamber. The House will not be returning tonight.
The key question now is: will this issue hold up the rest of the House's scheduled session days this year (few as they may be)?
House Democrats said today they are going to push that this resolution be addressed as soon as the House gavels back in - they are off next week, but back on Oct. 15. Republicans who control the chamber are sending loud signals that they do not want to waste their time
"Instead of voting substance, they want to vote politics," said Steve Miskin, spokesman for the House Republicans. "They are asking for an investigation of an investigation which led to the successful prosecution of a child predator."
House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D., Allegheny) insisted politics has nothing to do with it. He said there are still many questions that need to be answered: Was there only one investigator initially assigned to the case? Why did the investigation take three years?
"There is no witch hunt," Dermody told reporters shortly after Smith abruptly ended the session. "It will clear the air if this investigation is done."
Corbett, a Republican, has repeatedly defended his office's investigation into Sandusky. He has explained that a child sexual abuse investigation takes time, and that the pace is determined first and foremost by witnesses' willingness to come forward. Ever more so in the case of someone like Sandusky, who was prominent in the State College community, the governor has said.
In the end, eight young accusers testified and helped convict Sandusky as a result of the investigation begun under Corbett's watch as attorney general, the post he left to become governor in January 2011.
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