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ARGENTINA | 30-04-2024 09:24

Milei’s omnibus bill wins general approval in lower house Chamber of Deputies

Lower house Chamber of Deputies approves Milei's flagship reform bill in general with 142 votes in favour, 106 against and five abstentions; Lawmakers will now begin voting on key points, as well as accompanying fiscal package.

Argentina’s lower house Chamber of Deputies has granted general approval to President Javier Milei’s flagship ‘omnibus’ reform bill, backing the reform package by a clear margin.

After almost 20 hours of debate, lawmakers in the lower house on Tuesday morning backed the ‘Ley de Bases’ reform with 142 votes in favour, 106 against and five abstentions. 

Without a pause, deputies began discussing the massive bill’s most contentious point, with voting likely to be tighter on particular articles. The government could still suffer defeats on key points, including its ‘Large Investment Scheme,’ some delegated powers and income tax levels.

Congressional experts expect voting to be concluded in the early afternoon, with lawmakers then intending to debate an accompanying fiscal package.

Once the hundreds of articles have been backed or rejected, the bill will head to the Senate for debate. President Milei’s party, in the minority in both chambers, is likely to encounter greater resistance in the upper house.

Milei, who has not yet scored a major legislative victory in Congress despite taking office last December, suffered a setback last month when senators refused to validate his emergency economic deregulation decree.

His government is hoping to get the bill through Congress as a prelude to his much-hyped ‘Pacto de 25 de Mayo,’ an agreement detailing economic ground rules for the nation that he wants provincial governors to sign publicly in Córdoba next month.

The omnibus bill, which the President says is essential to his plans to right Argentina’s struggling economy, was backed in the lower house by Milei’s La Libertad Avanza party, the right-wing PRO bloc and the bulk of the UCR, Hacemos Coalición Federal and Coalición Cívica caucuses. 

The parties were joined by eight deputies from the new Innovación Federal bloc. 

Milei’s administration was to remove hundreds of articles from the original 644 contained in the so-called ‘Ley de Bases y Puntos de Partida para la Libertad de los Argentinos,’ during negotiations with lawmakers. The new bill contains around 230 articles. 

Unions, opposition parties and social organisations have been demonstrating in rejection of the bill outside the National Congress building since Monday.

Peronist lawmaker Leopoldo Moreau (Unión por la Patria) cautioned against passage of the bill. 

"We are convinced that this bill does nothing more than repeat the failures of the past,” he said.


– TIMES/NA

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