- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

House Democratic leaders are fretting about a brewing political battle over a resolution to honor King of Pop Michael Jackson.

The resolution, promised at the pop star’s public memorial Tuesday by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, faces opposition from the late Mr. Jackson’s detractors in Congress.

It is a headache the leadership doesn’t need right now, a top Democratic aide said.

“There are so many other issues before the House, between health care and appropriations bills, that is totally our focus,” said the aide, speaking privately because of the sensitivity of the resolution.

“It’s a distraction,” the aide said.

The trouble started with Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, who has called Mr. Jackson a “pervert, child molester [and] pedophile” and says he will steadfastly oppose a resolution to honor him.

A California jury acquitted Mr. Jackson of child molestation charges in 2005.

Mr. King garnered national attention with a videotaped rant about Mr. Jackson that was posted on YouTube shortly after Mr. Jackson’s death June 25 at the age of 50.

His opposition to the resolution could force an uncomfortable roll call vote on the measure, potentially splitting Democrats across racial, regional and cultural lines.

Resolutions honoring a person who has died or made a significant achievement typically are not controversial and move quickly to the House floor to be passed on a voice vote.

If a member asks for a recorded vote, it would take a two-thirds majority to pass - a steep hurdle for a bill such as the Jackson resolution, which currently has just two sponsors: Mrs. Jackson Lee and Rep. Diane Watson, California Democrat.

The resolution, which proclaims Mr. Jackson an “American legend and musical icon,” says that he “was not only an accomplished recording and performing artist, he was a noted humanitarian.”