Compromise rejected as filibuster continues

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Compromise rejected as filibuster continues

As opposition lawmakers continued their filibuster against a contentious counterterrorism bill, the ruling party said it would not make any concessions, rejecting an offer for a compromise.

Saenuri Party Rep. Won Yoo-chul on Thursday held a press conference declaring that there would be no renegotiation. “The counterterrorism bill, introduced by National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa, already reflects enough opinions from the opposition,” Won said. “There will be no concession.”

After Chung introduced the bill, sponsored by the ruling party, to the floor for a vote on Tuesday, the Minjoo Party requested unlimited debate on the item. The filibuster started at 7:07 p.m. Tuesday and continued throughout Thursday.

Lawmakers from the Minjoo Party, the People’s Party and the Justice Party have participated in the filibuster. As of 5 p.m., the eighth speaker, Minjoo Rep. Shin Kyung-min, spoke to protest the feasibility that the bill would give too much power to the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Speculation arose earlier in the day that the ruling and opposition parties may break through their deadlock when the People’s Party proposed a compromise and Chung asked Saenuri lawmakers to consider it.

People’s Party Rep. Joo Seung-yong presented the proposal Wednesday to the speaker and floor leaders of the Saenuri and Minjoo parties.

While the Saenuri has adamantly insisted on its version of the bill and the Minjoo has continued its filibuster, legislative operations have remained paralyzed.

The People’s Party said Thursday, however, that it may find a way to normalize the National Assembly operation. “I told Chung that we may consider a way to end the filibuster, if the proposal is not accepted,” Joo said Thursday.

According to the National Assembly Act, a filibuster can be put to a stop when more than one-third of sitting lawmakers sign a motion and deliver it to the speaker. Voting takes place 24 hours after a motion is submitted, and a consensus by three-fifths of lawmakers effectively ends the debate.

Currently, the 300-seat legislature has 293 sitting lawmakers. The Saenuri holds 157 seats, while the Minjoo has 108 and the People’s Party 17.

To end the debate, a consensus of 176 lawmakers is required. With full support of the Saenuri and the People’s Party, two more votes would still be needed. There are six independent lawmakers, including Chung, a former member of the Saenuri Party.

Also Thursday, the National Assembly’s plan to hold a Security and Public Administration Committee session and pass a new electoral map was derailed, with the National Election Commission (NEC) failing to present the new constituency map. The ruling and opposition parties agreed to the redistricting plan Tuesday and planned to vote on it come today.

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

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