By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG (CBS) – So much for civility in political debate, at least in the Pennsylvania House. A nasty partisan row erupted last week over a controversial resolution supported by Republican majority leaders. There could be more sparks on Monday if the resolution gets a vote on the House floor.

HOUSE MEMBER: “Slavery! What about freedom?”

State House majority Republicans claim Democrats want to snarl reform bills by offering several dozen amendments and the GOP responded by pushing through a resolution in the House Rules Committee that would reduce the Democrats’ representation on committees and would make it easier to shut down debate on amendments.

In the rules meeting, Democratic Leader Frank Dermody tangled with Majority Leader Mike Turzai.

DERMODY: “Are you telling us we can’t debate the bill anymore? Is that what you’re saying?”

TURZAI:  “I’ve given you an opportunity, Rep. Dermody, to make your speech. Please take a roll call.”

DERMODY: “We have members of the Rules Committee – we have members of the Rules Committee – we have members of the Rules Committee that have a right to speak. They have a right to speak!”

HOUSE MEMBER: “May I speak? May I speak???”

More of the exchange:

TURZAI: “The response was, specifically, ‘we don’t want you to be able to do what you need to do’ – I’m paraphrasing…”

DERMODY: “Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You can’t be paraphrasing. Stop that. Stop that. Stop that. That’s outrageous.”

Both sides characterized the other’s actions as ‘punitive.’

Reported by Tony Romeo, KYW Newsradio

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