Once more unto the breach: second version of Milei’s omnibus bill goes to debate

The abbreviated version of the president’s flagship legislation would privatize far fewer companies and water down labor reforms

Argentina’s congressional commissions have approved a final edition of the second version of President Javier Milei’s omnibus bill, his flagship reform package that failed to pass Congress in February. 

After the first bill collapsed because of a lack of cross-party support, the new bill’s course through Congress will be a key test of the Milei administration’s willingness and capacity to negotiate.

The second version is a pared-down text removing some of the more divisive points in the previous text. The labor reform in the new document is more modest, although it maintains reforms such as extending probation periods to six months. 

Four public companies are slated for privatization, while five more could be either privatized or put to private tender. The first omnibus bill initially proposed privatizing 41 public companies.

The companies slated for privatization are:

  • Flagship carrier Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • Oil, gas, and power company Energía Argentina, 
  • Public media company Radio y Televisión Argentina
  • Cargo company Intercargo 

The companies up for privatization or concession are:

  • Utility AySA 
  • Argentina’s national mail service, 
  • Rail operator SOFSE 
  • Rail cargo company Belgrano Cargas
  • Road maintenance company Corredores Viales

The text also expressly prohibits the government from closing key national institutes including the CONICET research council, food and medicine regulator ANMAT, and space agency CONAE. However, some of these institutions, such as the INCAA national film institute, have already faced sweeping cuts and reforms that workers argue are tantamount to closure.

The bill keeps significant controversial proposals such as the declaration of a one-year state of emergency in administrative, economic, financial, and energy-related issues. It would also delegate the power to legislate on these matters to Milei.

The Chamber of Deputies will hold a session on Monday at 11 a.m. to discuss the second omnibus bill — which, like its predecessor, is called the Law of Bases and Points of Departure for the Liberty of Argentines. 

It will also discuss a fiscal package that includes a tax amnesty and a lower income tax threshold, which was likewise approved in commissions on Thursday.

Milei said in a speech at the Liberty Foundation on Wednesday night that his government would pass the bill’s contents, whatever it took. “Throw out the Law of Bases, do whatever you want, with this program we’ll manage all this despite politics, and boy are we doing it!” he said.

The original omnibus bill

Milei first presented his omnibus bill, a hotly controversial bid to reform vast swathes of Argentina’s political and economic system, on December 27. With 351 pages and 664 articles, its scope was unprecedented. The bill would have given Milei the power to legislate in several areas, laid the groundwork for 41 state companies to be privatized, and declared a state of emergency until December 2025. A dedicated fiscal chapter established a tax amnesty, while the security section imposed harsher penalties on protests. 

However, the bill was cut down during the negotiation and debate process, and the entire fiscal chapter was removed. Only around half of the original articles remained by the time it reached a vote in deputies. Eventually, the bill collapsed after deputies voted to send it back to commissions during the article-by-article vote.

The final text of the proposed law will probably be modified in Congress. The Peronist and leftist opposition are expected to reject it, while more supportive parties such as the center-right UCR party are expected to ask for modifications on the house floor.


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