In a dramatic move on Tuesday night, Argentina’s Lower House returned President Javier Milei’s entire omnibus bill to congressional commissions, wiping out weeks of negotiation. The government seethed at deputies and governors, whom they accuse of tanking the session.
President Javier Milei called deputies who voted against articles of the bill “traitors,” accusing them of taking advantage of the rhetoric of change to “swindle” a seat in Congress. Milei is currently in Israel on an official visit and made all his comments regarding the issue on social media.
“Here’s a list of the loyal ones and the traitors who used the discourse of change in order to swindle a [Congressional] seat… Come and see the enemies of a better Argentina,” Milei said in a post on X, quoting a post by the presidency’s official account listing deputies’ votes.
The list of “traitors” featured 61 names, including members of the so-called “moderate opposition,” like Nicolás Massot and Florencio Randazzo, from Hacemos Coalición Federal (HCF), as well as Facundo Manes, Julio Cobos, and Martín Tetaz, from Unión Cívica Radical (UCR).
The most notable name on the list was Carolina Píparo, who ran for Buenos Aires Province governor as a La Libertad Avanza (LLA) candidate last year and has since distanced herself from the party. The list of “loyals” featured 90 names, including all LLA deputies and Cristian Ritondo (PRO), Miguel Ángel Pichetto (HCF), and José Luis Espert (Avanza Libertad, AL).
In a separate post, the government said that the governors “destroyed” the omnibus bill in an attempt to protect their interests and impede the current administration from solving Argentina’s “structural” problems.
“They won their positions and seats, waving the banner of change, only to betray their voters. We will no longer engage in debates with those who demand to keep their privileges while 63% of Argentine children have nothing to eat,” the statement read.
President Milei has had a fragile relationship with governors and deputies since the beginning of his term. In late December, shortly before sending the omnibus bill to Congress, Milei called lawmakers a “delinquent cast set out to get bribes and perpetuate the decadent status quo.” The government has drawn a hard line with the provinces, refusing to negotiate additional sources of tax revenue that governors requested in return for approving key parts of the omnibus bill.
The 10 Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) governors released a statement Tuesday night claiming they supported the requests the government made in the omnibus bill, adding that they had lived up to their commitment to “help” the new government receive the tools they deemed necessary to “transform” Argentina.
“Placing the blame solely at our feet or disrespecting us by hurling accusations of incompetence or a lack of will to discuss things is not right,” read the release.
Massot was one of the deputies singled out as a “traitor” who defended himself from the accusations, calling the government’s method of publishing lists “a reminder of some of the darkest periods of recent history.”
“The responsibility for this parliamentary setback is due exclusively to the [president’s] inexperience, lack of dialogue, and utter disinterest in the need to build consensus,” he wrote on X.
Interviewed outside Congress, the head of the UCR bloc, Rodrigo de Loredo, said that he felt “somewhat naïve” for believing that the bill could pass.
“We are reformists, so that means that reforms happen when you build them,” he said, wiping away tears.“There was a great opportunity, but the usual fundamentalists come along and sink us as a country.”
Itai Hagman, deputy for Unión por la Patria told the Herald that what happened was a “brutal political setback” for Milei’s government. He explained that when the Lower House was about to vote on the privatization of state-owned enterprises, LLA asked for a recess and held a meeting but couldn’t reach an agreement with the so-called moderate opposition. “Thanks to the government’s inability to make some concessions in order to get the bill out, well, it ended up being left without the bill,” the deputy said.
“My diagnosis is that the government acted with enormous arrogance and an enormous lack of expertise,” Hagman said, adding that Argentines found out about the bill’s contents thanks to the numerous protests against it. “This is an important limit to what was an assault by the executive branch on Congress, but that doesn’t mean that it is over — the mega-decree is still in force and we are demanding for it to be discussed in Congress.”
Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said that the bill was not voted on because “the status quo is always ready to leave things as they are.”
“Yesterday, the change went backward, but we are going to do it another way, they are not going to stop us,” the minister added in an interview during the burning of confiscated drugs in the Buenos Aires town of El Talar.