First Senate session fails amid screaming matches

Senators from the opposition left the house after fighting over the agenda

The first session of the Argentine Senate failed today following a fight between the government and the opposition over the order of the agenda — opposition members left, meaning that there weren’t enough senators present to achieve quorum and the session fell through.

The government rejected a request to change the order of issues on the table and to postpone the debate around the “Zero Alcohol” Law, a total ban on consuming alcohol before driving. 

“We ask the opposition to reflect. These are issues that interest the people,” said Juliana Di Tulio, head of the Unidad Popular bloc.

Today’s session was called yesterday via decree by acting senate president Claudia Ledesma and included issues that hadn’t been agreed to previously, such as the “Zero Alcohol” Law, which has been approved by the Lower House.  

When the session convened, the head of the Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) bloc Alfredo Cornejo called for a special session to be held on the issue on April 13th. Cornejo and other opposition members also demanded that other bills, such as one addressing child abuse named after Lucio Dupuy (Ley Lucio), be put on the agenda. 

The motion was denied and a heated discussion on senate protocol ensued — the government claimed that two-thirds of the house needed to vote in favor in order change the agenda while the opposition contended that a simple majority would suffice. Screaming matches and the withdrawal of opposition blocs JxC and the new Unidad Federal (Federal Unity) followed..

The Federal Unity bloc was formed in February after four senators broke away from the ruling coalition and left governing Frente de Todos (FdT) with just 31 senators — two less than the opposition, making it increasingly difficult for them to pass legislation or hold quorum.

A minority of senators remained following the JxC and UF exit with supporters of the “Zero Alcohol” Law, including family members of people who were killed by drunk drivers. Lucio Dupuy’s grandparents were also present.

-with information from Télam

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