Friday, June 14, 2024

ARGENTINA | 28-05-2024 16:24

'Ley de Bases': Meeting between Villarruel, Francos and blocs open to dialogue

Vice-President Victoria Villarruel and new Cabinet chief Guillermo Francos are meeting with Senate blocs open to dialogue as talks over President Milei's sweeping reform package ramp up.

Vice-President Victoria Villarruel and new Cabinet chief Guillermo Francos are meeting with legislative blocs open to dialogue on Tuesday to assess the amendments the Senate wants to apply to President Javier Milei's 'Ley de Bases' bill and accompanying fiscal package.

The meeting comes at a crucial time in the upper house. Villarruel, who heads the Senate, and newly empowered Francos are seeking to secure the passage of President Milei's landmark mega-reform package. Senators, however, are seeking amendments to the bill, but the government is keen to avoid its return to the lower house, which signed off on the bills last month.

If given the go-ahead by senators, La Libertad Avanza – firmly in the minority in both legislative chambers – could see opinions on the bill published by Wednesday with potentially a vote the coming week. Plenary sessions of committees on the 'Ley de Bases' bill have been called for Wednesday at 3pm.

This will be Francos’ second visit to the Senate (now Cabinet chief following Nicolás Posse’s exist) since the bill entered the upper house on May 2, after the preliminary approval at the Chamber of Deputies. 

Villarruel had been excluded since the outset  in negotiationsand the Executive Branch wasted several days to achieve a better and well-oiled relationship with bloc leaders and their wayward elements: mainly, the head of the Radicals, Senator Martín Lousteau (Buenos Aires City) and PRO Senator Guadalupe Tagliaferri (Buenos Aires City).

Even though they both belong to two blocs tentatively aligned with the Government, Lousteau and Tagliaferri will vote independently and do not answer to a provincial governor. The representatives have taken it upon themselves to meticulously stress the failures and weaknesses of both mega bills.

Those votes potentially come in addition to other federal blocs with requests and criticism, including Unidad Federal, via its president, Edgardo Kueider (Entre Ríos). Unlike in Chamber of Deputies, where the ruling party could play more with the margin of votes and do without some lawmakers, that is not the case in the Senate. The ruling party has only seven senators out of 72, whereas Kirchnerism-Peronism has a basic floor of 33.

Therefore, to achieve a majority, La Libertad Avanza has had to move to the centre and concede on many fronts. The most trimmed and modified aspects of the bill might be in the RIGI Big Investment Incentive Regime; money-laundering changes, labour reform; privatisations; wording of articles related to the delegation of emergency powers; and the pension moratorium.



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