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20th National Assembly headed for worst track record

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The ruling Democratic Party is hoping to hold another extraordinary session of the National Assembly next week, but avoiding the lowest ever bill processing rate appears unlikely.

The outgoing parliament has until May 29 to pass pending bills, with many in the pipeline, including some pertaining to the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Democratic Party deputy floor leader Rep. Kim Young-jin, the ruling and main opposition United Future Party are negotiating on holding another extraordinary session, having deemed holding a plenary meeting by Friday to be difficult.

The current extraordinary session is set to end on Friday, and talks on holding a plenary session to push process uncontested bills this week have been put on hold due to United Future Party floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young’s absence.

Joo is currently absent due to his father’s funeral, and is set to resume his duties on Wednesday -- two days before the end of the extraordinary session of the National Assembly.

“The bills that will be put to the additional extraordinary session are not contested by the ruling and opposition parties,” Kim said, adding that he believes the Joo will “make a rational decision.”

While parliamentary schedule beyond this week remains undecided, the ruling party has reiterated its intention to approve bills related to the COVID-19 pandemic before the 20th National Assembly ends.

“Legislations on quarantine and overcoming the economic crisis cannot wait until the 21st National Assembly,” Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, Democratic Party floor leader said Monday.

Despite the parties’ last minute efforts to process bills, the 20th National Assembly’s record appears unlikely to improve significantly as unprocessed bills expire automatically at the end of its term on May 29.

Although the situation has improved a little since Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Lee Hae-chan referred to the current National Assembly as the worst in history late last year, more than 15,000 bills are pending.

With just over 24,000 bills having been proposed since May 2016, the current National Assembly’s bill processing rate stands at 36.6 percent. At the time of Lee’s comment, less than 30 percent of bills proposed since May 2016 had been tabled.

In comparison, 41.7 percent of bills proposed during the 19th National Assembly were processed.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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