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Senate to shun censure debate?

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell said Thursday the S.C. Senate may not ever vote on a censure of Gov. Mark Sanford that the House expects to approve next week.

Unless the Senate quickly can take up the matter, which criticizes Sanford for his clandestine June trip to Argentina and subsequent discoveries about his use of state aircraft, McConnell, R-Charleston, worried that the nonbinding resolution had the potential to bog down Senate business.

The bill could be taken up immediately in the Senate, but would be sent to committee if even one senator objects. Once back on the floor, McConnell said the bill would be open to amending.

"If it's an open-season debate, it's not worth the resources," McConnell said. "At the end of the day, what does it matter? Either you approve or disapprove. I don't know anybody (in the Senate) who supports (Sanford's) behavior."

A House panel approved the censure, which serves as an official rebuke, after investigating Sanford's record this fall. House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Harrison, R-Richland, said the censure likely would be set for a Wednesday vote. Harrison thinks the House will unanimously approve the censure.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said the Senate should vote on the bill as well.

If the public is disappointed that Sanford might escape any official punishment, Harrell said, "the public would need to make that case with (the Senate)."

But McConnell said the public is tired of the issue and a prolonged floor debate would draw more ire than letting the matter fade away.

"Why waste a lot of resources and time on a resolution that ultimately has no binding effect?" McConnell asked. "If we can get it up and out, I have no problem getting it up and out."

Sanford declined to comment on the censure, saying he would leave those decisions to the Legislature.