The Colombian congress that will serve the 2014-2018 term just took office and on Tuesday, they started the selection of law-makers for the committees that will steer the legislative agenda for the new term, local media reports.
After having the initial plenary session where the Senate (upper house) and the Chamber of Representatives (lower house) unite, the commissions for both houses will be chosen this week.
Positions for the congressional commissions are chosen by parties who elect representatives to each commission, which discusses different topics and proposes legislation to then be debated and approved or shot down by the plenary sessions that occur afterwards.
The first commission, that deals with some of the most contentious issues of Colombia including constitutional reform is perhaps the most sought after commission. Already confirmed to be a part of this particular committee are Senators Horacio Serpa, Vivian Morales, Juan Manuel Galan, Roberto Gerlein, Roy Barreras, Armando Benedetti, Carlos Enrique Soto, Jose Obdulio Gaviria, Claudia Lopez, Doris Vega among others, according to the Colprensa news agency.
The names that compose this committee are some of the most veteran and well-known in Colombian politics, also including the up-and-coming politicians that have gained recognition for their outspokenness on multiple issues.
The seventh commission, is also likely to garner attention because of the membership of controversial ex-President-turned-Senator Alvaro Uribe from the Democratic Center party. The seventh commission debates the Senate’s privileges and matters relating to public life and the family.
How Congress works in a nutshell
Colombia’s congress has two different stages where representatives and senators meet. Commissions, the first stage, are where members of Congress participate in the writing and formation of legislation. Each commission deals with a separate topic and every member of Congress is required to be a part of one constitutionally mandated commission, and are not permitted to be a part of any other constitutionally mandated commission. There are three types of commissions, constitutionally mandated, legal and special committees that are composed in an emergency situation.
The second phase, plenary sessions are where all members of the Senate or all members of the Chamber of Representatives meet and approve, modify or reject initiatives that the commissions come up with, according to congressional watchdog organization Congreso Visible.
The most sought after commission is likely the first commission. This commission deals with constitutional reforms, territorial organization, rules and norms for official government watchdog organizations, administrative contracts, rights, guarantees and responsibilities of the legislative branch, peace and ethical issues. The commission’s numbers correspond to the same committees for both the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives.
- Esta semana se integran las comisiones del Congreso (El Universal/Colprensa)
- Comisiones (Congreso Visible)