Commissions approve Milei’s omnibus bill for Congress debate

The ruling coalition secured majority support in commissions, although many participants expressed partial disagreement

Commissions approve the Omnibus Bill. Photo: provided by Congress press office

In a victory for Javier Milei’s government, the congressional commissions discussing the reform package known as the “omnibus bill” issued a favorable verdict, allowing it to be debated in Congress on Thursday. 

The commission debate was scheduled for Tuesday at 6.30 p.m. and then delayed by two hours. It finally started at 9.00 p.m. and finished after 1.30 a.m on Wednesday morning.

Feverish negotiations with members of the opposition started when the project was first filed on December 27, and continued well after Tuesday’s debate started. Issues including export duties, mental health laws, and the duration and scope of Milei’s emergency powers were on the table. More than 100 changes were made after the talks, which were spearheaded by Interior Minister Guillermo Francos, presidential advisor Santiago Caputo, and head of the Lower House Martín Menem.

While his associates were negotiating those changes, Milei consistently said in interviews that lawmakers who promoted changes to the bill were seeking bribes or that they “didn’t get it” (no la ven). The phrase has become popular with libertarian social media users.

Far-right ruling party La Libertad Avanza obtained the majority verdict of 55 votes. Of those, 32 were “in dissent,” meaning that they were favorable but expressed partial disagreement. Most votes to approve the bill came from the right-wing PRO and centrist UCR parties, as well as the Hacemos Coalición Federal and Innovación Federal center-right coalitions. Peronist bloc Unión por la Patria got the largest minority verdict, which opposed the omnibus bill, with 45 votes.

In a packed room, hours before the first national strike against the government, LLA deputy Santiago Santurio opened the debate by saying that he didn’t believe that politics or the presence of the state were the solution to Argentina’s problems. He said the omnibus bill seeks to give the necessary guarantees to allow citizens to do “whatever they want.” 

Juan Manuel López, from the centrist Coalición Cívica party, said his party could not vote for the omnibus bill. “There is still much room for improvement, the debate in a parliament has to be serious, rigorous, and communicated to society,” López said. He suggested discussing only some of the bill’s articles, namely the labor reform and the elimination of the automobile register. The Coalición Cívica filed its own verdict, which got three votes.

Unión por la Patria’s Germán Martínez accused Chief of Staff Nicolás Posse, Economy Minister Nicolás Caputo, and the bill’s author Federico Sturzenegger of not going to Congress to explain the project. He added that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights wanted to speak in Congress but that the government did not allow it.

‘A grave mistake’ 

“We are convinced that sooner rather than later, lawmakers from different parties will realize it is a grave mistake to give more faculties to this President, who wants to trample on everything,” Martínez said.

The Hacemos opposition bloc, which participated in last week’s negotiations, also signed the verdict. On Tuesday, Miguel Pichetto, head of the bloc, said he would support the government. “We have a proactive vision of not throwing a spanner in the works,” he told press outside Congress.

Eight members of the UCR also signed the final draft of the bill, but some opposed it. UCR deputy Facundo Manes wrote on X that the bill and decree “strain the limits of democracy” and would “further impoverish Argentines.” 

Deputy Christian Castillo, from the left-wing alliance Frente de Izquierda, filed his verdict opposing the omnibus bill. It was almost forgotten by Gabriel Bornoroni, the LLA deputy who presided over the session. Nicolás del Caño, also of the Frente de Izquierda, reminded Bornoroni of it, just after calling for a “strong mobilization” in Congress against the bill.

“We still can defeat this omnibus bill, [Javier] Milei and [Economy Minister Nicolás Caputo’s austerity package, [Security Minister Patricia] Bullrich’s protocol, and the mega-decree,” he said, minutes before the session ended.


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