Choices for standing committee heads roil Saenuri Party

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Choices for standing committee heads roil Saenuri Party

Political parties selected most of the heads of key committees as of Sunday and the National Assembly will meet Monday to finalize the appointments.

Of the 18 key committees, lawmakers of President Park Geun-hye’s Saenuri Party will chair eight, while the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea will chair another eight. The People’s Party will chair two committees.

The Minjoo Party, the largest party in the new legislature, completed its selection of the eight committee leaders and announced the names Sunday. Rep. Kim Hyun-mee, a three-term lawmaker, was selected chairwoman of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts.

Rep. Baek Jae-hyun, another three-term lawmaker, was named chairman of the Special Committee on Ethics.

After the National Assembly formally endorses Kim’s appointment, she will become the first woman lawmaker to head the powerful committee that decides the government budgets. In the 19th National Assembly, she served on the Strategy and Finance Committee.

Kim is a close associate of Moon Jae-in, former chairman of the Minjoo Party. She served as his chief of staff when he was chairman.

The Minjoo Party said Kim and Baek will chair the special committees for one year.

The Minjoo Party said Rep. Yang Seung-jo, a four-term lawmaker, was selected to chair the Health and Welfare Committee. Another four-term lawmaker Cho Jeong-sik will chair the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee.

Rep. Shim Jae-kwon will chair the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee and Rep. Hong Young-pyo will head the Environment and Labor Committee.

Rep. Kim Young-choon was selected to head the Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans and Fisheries Committee and Rep. Nam In-soon will head the Gender Equality and Family Committee.

People’s Party representatives will chair the Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee and the Trade, Industry and Energy Committee. Sources said Rep. Yoo Sung-yop will likely chair the education committee and Rep. Chang Byoung-wan the trade committee.

While the two liberal parties smoothly nominated senior lawmakers to chair their committees, the conservative Saenuri Party was still struggling with fierce internal competition as of Sunday. Rep. Chung Jin-suk, the floor leader, and senior lawmakers tried on Friday at a policy workshop to mediate in order to decide on its new committee heads without holding primaries, but their efforts failed.

The House Steering Committee will surely be chaired by Rep. Chung based on the tradition that the floor leader heads it.

Rep. Kim Young-woo will likely chair the National Defense Committee and Rep. Lee Cheol-woo will likely head the Intelligence Committee since they are the sole candidates.

For the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, three lawmakers, all three-term representatives with backgrounds as attorneys, made bids: Reps. Yeo Sang-kyoo, Kweon Seong-dong and Hong Il-pyo. The committee is considered important as it is the final gatekeeper of all bills before a voting session.

The party said Kwon will chair the committee first for one year, Yeo the next year and Hong for the final two years.

Three lawmakers - Lee Hong-koo, Lee Hye-hoon and Cho Kyung-tae - are competing to head the Strategy and Finance Committee. Reps. Kim Yong-tae, Lee Jin-bok and Kim Sung-tae are competing to head the National Policy Committee. Both are considered powerful because they deal with economic policies.

Reps. Yoo Jae-jung, Park Soon-ja and Lee Myoung-su are competing to head the Security and Public Administration Committee and Reps. Cho Won-jin and Shin Sang-jin are competing to chair the Science, ICT, Future Planning, Broadcasting and Communications Committee. The committees are considered to have strategic importance before next year’s presidential election.

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