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Plenary session on contentsious bills set for next month

Nov 13,2019
Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang, second from left, poses for a group photo with floor leaders of three major political parties in the speaker’s offi ce in the National Assembly on Tuesday. From left: Lee In-young of the ruling Democratic Party, Moon, Na Kyung-won of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and Oh Shinhwan of the Bareunmirae Party. [LIM HYUN-DONG]
The ruling and opposition parties agreed Tuesday to hold a voting session next week to pass dozens of outstanding bills.

National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang also said Tuesday that he will arrange a separate plenary session next month to vote on contentious bills aimed at revising the election law and weakening the prosecution’s powers. The session will take place sometime after Dec. 3, he said.

Floor leaders of the ruing Democratic Party (DP) and opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and Bareunmirae Party had a meeting with Moon in the morning and agreed to the legislative schedule for this month. They agreed that a voting session will take place no Nov. 19 to pass 120 bills that are less controversial.

They also agreed that three bills aimed at revising the laws governing privacy, credit information and information and communication network in order to support the “big data” industry will be passed quickly. Although they did not set a deadline for the three bills, they can also be voted on at next week’s session, if they are passed at their respecting committees in time.

The three chief negotiators - Reps. Lee In-young of the DP, Na Kyung-won of the LKP and Oh Shin-whan of the Bareunmirae Party - failed to follow through with an agreement between President Moon Jae-in and their leaders to restart a political consultative body. When President Moon had dinner on Sunday with the heads of five major political parties, they had agreed to resume the operation of the consultative group among the ruling and opposition parties and the government.

“We will leave the matter to the party heads to decide,” said the DP’s Lee.

According to National Assembly spokesman Han Min-soo, the chief negotiators and Speaker Moon also discussed perhaps the most sensitive issue - when to vote on the prosecutorial reform bills and election law revision bill.

The ruling DP formed an alliance with the opposition Bareunmirae and Justice parties and fast-tracked the bills earlier this year, after failing to strike a deal with the main opposition LKP. At the end of last month, Moon told the lawmakers that he will send the contentious reform bills for deliberation at a voting session on Dec. 3, effectively readying them for voting.

“I truly hope that the ruling and opposition parties will be able to agree on a voting date on their own,” Moon was quoted as saying. “That is the best.”

“But even if they fail to reach an agreement, the National Assembly must not give up. Doing nothing is unacceptable for the people. After they are sent to the main session for deliberations, they will be voted on quickly.”

Under the law governing the fast-track system, the election law revision bill will be sent to the voting session for deliberation on Nov. 27. The package of bills to weaken the prosecution’s powers by establishing a new investigative body for public servants and redistributing investigative powers between the prosecution and the police will be sent to the voting session for deliberation on Dec. 3.

Once the bills are sent for deliberation, they can be voted on at any time. Although Moon did not specify the voting date, he made clear that he will allow a voting at an early date after Dec. 3.

Na, however, refuted Moon’s decision by saying that the bills were fast-tracked illegally and the LKP does not endorse the voting schedule.

According to Han, Moon also urged the lawmakers to pass on the budget bill before the statutory deadline of Dec. 2.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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