National Assembly delays election of 12 committee heads
National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug decided to delay the session, intended to assign lawmakers to 12 standing committees and elect their heads, as the United Future Party (UFP) continues to protest the way the ruling Democratic Party (DP) is running the legislature.
“Taking into account the leadership vacuum of the opposition party, the plenary session will not take place this afternoon,” Han Min-soo, spokesman for the National Assembly, quoted Park as saying. “The floor leaders of the DP and UFP must resume negotiations and complete formation of the legislature as soon as possible.”
Park said the country is facing triple crises in national security, economics and national health, urging the two parties to stop fighting.
Park did not say when the plenary session will take place.
After a series of failed negotiations between the DP and the UFP over who will chair the 18 standing committees, Park used his power as the speaker and allowed the elections of six key committee chairs on Monday. The UFP, which boycotted the election of Park as the speaker earlier this month, refused to participate in the voting.
The DP used its majority of 176 lawmakers in the 300-member legislature to elect six of its lawmakers to head the six committees. Ending a venerable tradition that a senior lawmaker of the largest opposition party occupies the chair of the powerful Legislation and Judiciary Committee, the final gatekeeper of all bills before they are voted on, DP Rep. Yun Ho-jung was elected.
Before the elections, Park assigned 45 out of 103 UFP lawmakers to the six committees on his own. In protest, Rep. Joo Ho-young, floor leader of the UFP, resigned from his chief negotiator post.
Since Joo’s resignation on Monday, no negotiations took place between the two parties. Although the DP said it wants to elect the remaining 12 standing committee heads and complete the formation of the legislature by Friday, Park stopped them and canceled the plenary session.
“Park has been contacting both the DP and the UFP,” said Han. “There is no change in his stance that the DP will chair 11 committees while the UFP will chair seven, and that the Legislation and Judiciary Committee and the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts will be chaired by different parties.”
Since the DP is heading the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, a UFP lawmaker is expected to chair the budget committee.
The UFP was adamant that it won’t attend a negotiation unless the DP surrenders the Legislation and Judiciary Committee chairmanship.
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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