WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said on Monday that while he remains open to exploring how Congress may play a role in restoring fiscal sanity to state and local government budgets, he does not believe Washington should dictate public pension standards or allow states to seek bankruptcy protection.

“Despite the high cost of these pensions, it is not for Congress to admonish states for spending their money as their elected leaders see fit,” Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Tex., said in a statement provided to members of the subcommittee on courts and commercial and administrative law during a hearing on pensions and state bankruptcy. “States are sovereign in our system of federalism and are free to make even very expensive decisions.”

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