The New Jersey legislative committee looking into the George Washington Bridge scandal will continue its holding pattern — for now.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg said Monday that she and fellow co-chair John Wisniewski plan to meet with each other and the Democrat-controlled leadership about what steps the committee should take next. But those meetings haven’t been scheduled.
The scandal touched off efforts in both states to reform the Port Authority, which has earned a poor reputation in many lawmakers’ minds.
Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll pointed out the committee was formed with a broad investigatory mandate and said it should move forward with its probe of the Port Authority.
“The Port Authority can use all the attention we can give it,” he said. “It’s a nest. It’s an expensive nest.”
The committee began meeting in late January 2014 and last issued a report in December that found no connection between the governor and the closures.
Committee members held off subpoenaing witnesses because they did not want to interfere with U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s federal investigation.
Lawmakers said the failure to subpoena testimony likely limited their inquiry, and some Republican members are skeptical about why the committee may have to meet again.
“This committee has tossed around many millions of dollars already and at a minimum, if it is reconvened, we owe (taxpayers) some very clear explanations as to where we’re going and what we’re doing that can’t be done and isn’t being done by the U.S. attorney,” said Republican Assemblywoman Amy Handlin.
The Democrat-led committee’s legal fees have been more than $1 million. All told, the investigation — including fees for the governor’s counsel — has run more than $10 million.
Asked whether the sometimes political nature of the investigation affects the chances of the committee’s success, Carroll said no.
“It’s always going to be political,” he said. “Just because it’s political and just because it’s partisan doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. To my view, we’re the Legislature; we’re not some lapdog.”