Milei still wants the power to legislate: here’s what that means

A legal figure known as the delegation of legislative powers allows the president to rule by decree on specified issues — but strict rules apply

A pedestrian walks in front of the National Congress, as Argentines struggle amid rising inflation, in Buenos Aires, Argentina May 11, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Congress starts to debate President Javier Milei’s omnibus bill on Wednesday morning. One of the most controversial sections is the part that would delegate certain legislative powers to the president. But what does that mean in practice?

According to Article 76 of the Constitution, “the delegation of legislative powers to the Executive Branch is prohibited, except in specific matters of administration or public emergency.” In other words, these powers may be granted, provided they are for a “stipulated period of time and in line with the basis of the delegation established by Congress.”

This basis and the terms and conditions are among the legal provisions that Congress has been debating for the past few weeks. According to the Constitution, legislative delegation is an “exceptional and limited authorization that Congress may grant to the Executive Branch so that it may temporarily exercise some of the legislative powers that the Constitution grants to the Legislative Branch.”

Congress remains head of the legislature even if the president receives extraordinary powers and may continue to fulfill its duties while the delegation is in place. It can also repeal the law that delegated the powers in the first place. 

Governments usually request delegated powers when they believe the political system cannot function adequately with regular procedures.

If the omnibus bill’s chapter on delegated powers is kept and approved, the president will just need his signature and that of his Chief of Staff Nicolas Posse to legislate by decree. This is provided that they comply with what Congress establishes regarding the law, which is known as “the basis of delegation.”

Decrees made through legislative delegation are subject to similar controls to Decrees of Necessity and Urgency (DNU), and are regulated by the same legal mechanism: law 26,122. 

Once the measure is announced and the legislative decree is issued, the Chief of Staff has 10 days to send it to the Legislative Procedure Bicameral Commission, the same body that controls the DNU.

The Bicameral Commission must issue an opinion on the formal procedure, the adequacy of the decree to the subject matter, the basis of the delegation, and the established terms. However, it does not have any say regarding the appropriateness of the decree. After issuing its opinion, it must submit it to the plenary of each chamber for “express treatment.” 

Both chambers of Congress must repeal a decree for it to be overturned.

Originally published in Ámbito


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