Democrats may punish Choo over union vote

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Democrats may punish Choo over union vote

The Democratic Party yesterday began discussing possible disciplinary action against Representative Choo Mi-ae, who chairs the National Assembly’s Environment and Labor Committee.

Choo, one of the party’s senior lawmakers, upset many fellow party members when on Dec. 30 she opened a session at the committee to vote on the planned revision of regulations governing labor unions and union wages. The DP had earlier opposed the ruling party’s proposal.

The eight Grand Nationals on the committee approved a similar revision bill, proposed by Choo, and moved it forward to the legislative committee. Ahead of the voting, Grand Nationals scuffled with opposition representatives, eventually blocking them from entering the conference room to stop the vote on the bill.

The Democrats on the labor committee yesterday gathered to discuss what the party should do to punish Choo. DP floor leader Lee Kang-rae asked the party’s ethics committee to discipline Choo for ignoring the party’s decision by allowing the voting.

“In my personal opinion, we must hand down the maximum punishment, including expulsion,” said Representative Ooh Che-chang, a party spokesman.

While some Democrats demanded Choo be expelled from the party, others defended her.

“Just because the party’s stance differs from a lawmaker’s, it cannot be a reason to punish a lawmaker,” Hahn Hwa-kap, senior adviser and former chairman of the Democratic Party, said in an interview with PBC yesterday.

The final decision will be made at the DP lawmakers’ general assembly on Friday.

The DP also decided to bring the case to the National Assembly’s ethics committee, arguing that Choo had acted inappropriately as a committee chairwoman by blocking opposition lawmakers from participating in the voting.

Choo, however, rejected the Democrats’ criticism. “The party never made clear its stance on the matter, and opposition lawmakers have boycotted the session, so there is nothing wrong with what I have done,” Choo said Monday in a press conference.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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소속의원 징계 나서긴 처음, 이강래는 제명까지 거론, 추미애 “소신 끝까지 고수”




민주당은 지난 연말 노조관계법 처리를 놓고 친정인 민주당과 정면 충돌한 추미애(사진) 국회 환경노동위원장에 대해 5일 징계 절차에 들어갔다. 당 윤리위원회(위원장 신낙균)는 전날 이강래 원내대표가 “당의 강력한 항의에도 법안을 상정했으며, 한나라당 의원들과 회의장 문을 걸어 잠그고 법안을 통과시켜 당론을 무시했다”며 징계를 청원함에 따라 이날 심의에 착수했다. 민주당이 소속 의원 징계에 나선 건 처음이다.

징계 수위가 어떻게 될지는 미지수다. 이 원내대표는 징계청원서 초안에서 ‘제명’을 거론했을 만큼 강경하다. 또 추 위원장과 몸싸움까지 벌이며 강력히 반발했던 김상희 의원이 윤리위원을 맡고 있어 중징계가 내려질 가능성도 있다. 그러나 “(징계) 일변도로 가선 안 된다”(김영진 의원)는 의견도 적지 않다. 그래선지 한 수도권 의원은 “‘경고 이상 제명 미만’의 선에서 징계가 결정될 것”이라고 예상했다. 추 위원장은 이날 민주당 의원 전원(86명)과 상임고문단 등 100여 명에게 “나를 당내 정쟁의 희생물로 끌고 간다면 국민과 함께 내 소신과 원칙을 끝까지 지킬 수밖에 없다”고 밝힌 전날 기자회견문과 법안처리의 정당성을 설명하는 편지를 돌렸다. 정면 대응할 뜻을 비친 것이란 풀이가 당내에서 나왔다.


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