WASHINGTON — A House oversight committee hearing slated to examine state and municipal debt Thursday devolved into an extended debate about collective bargaining, featuring two sitting governors from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

The panel’s focus stoked a larger concern, voiced among some market participants earlier this year, that Republicans have politicized the issue of unfunded state pension liabilities as part of a broader effort to crack down on labor unions, which tend to vote for Democrats. One estimate, often cited by Republicans, pegs states’ unfunded pension liabilities at $3 trillion.

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