Omnibus bill: commissions close, La Libertad Avanza negotiates support

Meanwhile, Congress failed to form a commission to discuss President Javier Milei's mega-decree. What happens now?

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After almost 10 days, Argentina’s Lower House wrapped up its commission debates on President Javier Milei’s sweeping economic deregulation and state reform proposal known as the “omnibus bill.” Now, the ruling coalition La Libertad Avanza (LLA) is negotiating with the opposition: on one hand, to agree on a date for voting on the bill, and on the other, reach a consensus on changing key points of the proposal to guarantee its approval.

Congress sources told the Herald the session to vote for the bill is likely to take place on Thursday of next week (January 25). To vote on a bill, lawmakers first need to agree on a final version of the document — which could include changes to the original — a step that could potentially happen on Tuesday or Wednesday. However, LLA was originally pushing for the final version to be signed on Friday and voted on Saturday.

The 664-article legislative proposal is Milei’s flagship project, which seeks to change or annul hundreds of laws alongside a mega-decree issued in December. The bill proposes declaring a public emergency until the end of 2025, which would allow the Executive branch to legislate on certain matters without having to go through Congress. It also includes the sweeping privatization of public companies, the elimination of primary elections, and five-year prison sentences for those who organize protests.

The wide-ranging issues addressed in the bill were discussed in several commissions, a pre-requisite to being debated on the Lower House floor. Thirteen members of the national administration attended the sessions to explain sections of the bill and over 200 union, business, social movements, and NGO leaders had the chance to share their views on the bill — some in favor, “but most were against it,” Unión por la Patria (UxP) deputy Mónica Macha told the Herald.

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With commission discussions closed, the final countdown for LLA to gain the necessary support to approve the bill has begun — legislation needs a majority of 129 of the 257 deputies to pass the Lower House. With only 38 deputies, LLA is the only coalition that has confirmed it will back the bill. Deputies from other coalitions plan to either insist on modifications before approving it or reject it outright.

LLA’s best negotiation bet lies with the right-wing Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) coalition, one of the biggest in the Lower House, with 75 of the chamber’s 257 deputies. However, not all JxC members support Milei, and even if all the bloc’s deputies voted for the bill, the total would come to 113, which would still fall short of the necessary majority.

Hacemos Coalición Federal (23 deputies) and Innovación Federal (9) are two smaller center-right blocs that negotiated with LLA on Wednesday and Thursday. A source from the ruling party told the Herald that Interior Minister Guillermo Francos, presidential advisor Santiago Caputo, and head of the Lower House Martín Menem acted as LLA’s negotiators on Thursday night. They met in Menem’s office with Deputies Miguel Pichetto, Emilio Monzó, Ricardo López Murphy, and Florencio Randazzo representing Hacemos in the meetings, while Pamela Caletti was there for Innovación.

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On Wednesday, they asked Menem to delay the session until at least next Thursday to negotiate and presented a set of modifications they wanted to make to the bill. However, a source from Hacemos confirmed they are also working on an alternative document with said modifications, “just in case” LLA rejects them. Deputies will then have to choose which document they want to support before the debate starts on the Lower House floor.

“There wasn’t a formal call to negotiation [from LLA], and several talks are going on in parallel,” Deputy Martín Tetaz told the Herald. He is from the centrist Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), one of JxC’s main parties. “It’s being rumored that the government would accept changes in many articles but we’ll have to see if they want to go with a joint final version along with the ‘cooperative opposition,’ or if negotiations will keep going on without a session in sight.”

The biggest bloc in Congress, Peronist UxP (with 102 deputies), as well as left-wing Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores-Unidad (5) already confirmed they will vote against the entirety of the bill, and won’t negotiate. However, they are still 22 votes short and are working to convince other blocs to reject it.

An LLA source told the Herald that the ruling coalition is also negotiating with the UCR’s Rodrigo de Loredo, and PRO right-wing party’s María Eugenia Vidal, and Cristian Ritondo. The source said that the opposition members presented many modifications to the original project, which were still being discussed late on Thursday night. “The show goes on,” the source said.


Meanwhile, Congress blew Friday’s deadline to set up a special commission to discuss Milei’s mega-decree of necessity and urgency (known as DNU for its Spanish initials). The commission had to include members of both the Lower House and the Senate.

Now, lawmakers will discuss the decree directly in a special joint session in which they could overturn it — but the majority of both chambers have to reject it for that to happen. There is no date in sight for that debate, and the DNU, despite some judicial setbacks, is still being enforced.

“The success of the omnibus bill and the DNU would be severely harmful,” Macha said. “The government is aiming to destroy the national Argentine state, based on two ideas: that we have a broken country — when we really own immense natural riches — and that in order to live better, we first need to suffer.”

Milei ordered Congress to hold extraordinary sessions during the summer expecting his bill and the DNU would be approved by January 31. However, the Lower House only just finished addressing the omnibus bill in commissions and, if approved there, it would need to go through the Senate next. It’s not clear if the extraordinary sessions period will be extended or if the discussion will resume in the Senate when Congress reopens in March.

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Additional reporting by Facundo Iglesia


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