Bill to punish Colombia’s chronically absent congressmen fails because of absent congressmen

A bill that sought to punish chronic absenteeism in Colombia’s Congress failed to make it through the first debate because too many lawmakers were absent and the session was canceled.

The bill had been proposed by opposition party Democratic Center to curb the almost systematic absence of large numbers of members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

This widespread absenteeism is one of the reasons Congress is Colombia’s least approved public institution and the cause of the failure of many proposals.

Debates are frequently canceled at the last minutes because the not even the legal minimum number of lawmakers show up. Consequently, the passing of bills is delayed and sometimes fails because lawmakers are unable to finish the legislative cycle on time.

Often, lawmakers do go to Congress and register as present, only to then leave again.

Senator Alfredo Rangel, the proponent of the bill, was furious.

His bill proposed financial salary cuts for absenteeism.

However, “the congressmen of the national unity are only interested in projects with which they can blackmail the government and walk away with slush funds.”

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