Liberia: Senate President Edits House's Communication

-Intervenes in National Budget Submission to Senate

The President of the Liberian Senate, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has taken serious exception to the House of Representatives letter requesting the Senate to concur with them on their passage of the Domestic Violence Act of 2019, by noting that said Bill has been "passed into the full force of the law."

But seconds later, Vice President Taylor sought enquiry from the Secretary of the Senate, J. Nanborlor F. Sengbeh on the wording "passed into the full force of the law, and wondered whether that is how it is supposed to be.

The aforementioned bill was passed into "the full force of the law" by the Honorable House of Representatives on Thursday, July 4, 2019.

"It was passed by the House of Representatives, but cannot be into the full force of the law until the President signs it, I might be wrong; we have got to be careful, because when you say 'full force of the law', then there is nothing the Senate can do about it; so we need to correct it. It is not in the full force of the law [if] the House of Representatives has passed it and they are asking us to concur. But when you say 'full force of the law', that means it is actually printed into handbills," Vice President Taylor, a former Senator from Bong County said as she presided over the 48th day sitting of the Senate, Tuesday, July 16.

The plenary agreed that a necessary correction be made and informed the House about the appropriate wordings for such communications in the current instance and in the future.

The Domestic Violence Act of 2019 was received and voted on by a motion proffered by Grand Kru County Senator Peter S. Coleman, citing clause of voluminous nature and was sent to the committees on Judiciary, and Health and Gender to report back to plenary within the shortest possible time.

The House's second communication to the Senate on July 16, 2019 informed that body that it adjourned on Thursday, July 11, for recess to resume on Monday, July 29, for the purpose of the forthcoming 2019 July 26 Day Independence celebration. Also Senate President Taylor announced the Senate too, will recess Thursday, July 18.

Meanwhile, through a communication, the Acting Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Tanneh Bronson, submitted to the Senate the 2019/2020 National Budget. The communication was noted by plenary, but with the caveat that the office of the President will submit the official letter to the Senate.

Earlier, Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland County, requested the Senate to scrap from its Tuesday, July 16 agenda the communication from the Deputy Finance Minister, arguing that it was unprecedented for a deputy minister to address the Senate, especially when it relates to budget matters.

"The revenue bill is sent to both Houses by the President, but the discussions begin at the Lower House because they have the first preference. But I would like to kindly request that, because of expediency, that we accept this letter from Tanneh, but that the official document from the President still needs to come," the Senate President intervened.

Also commenting on the budget submission, Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay said based on the appeal from Vice President Taylor, the Senate will accept the letter, "but, as of now, we don't want office secretary communicating directly with the Senate; it must come the President's office otherwise next time we will send it back; we will accept it because of your intervention. "

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