With Argentina’s Congress split, commissions debate Milei’s ‘omnibus bill’

La Libertad Avanza expect plain sailing for the president’s flagship bill. Their opponents promise stormy waters. Here’s what happens now

Argentina’s Congress starts discussing President Javier Milei’s “omnibus bill” Tuesday afternoon. Milei’s coalition expects it to be passed with some modifications — but a tight legislative battle is shaping up, with Peronists and other major blocs promising to fully or partially reject it.

The 664-article legislative proposal is Milei’s flagship project, and its fate will dictate the potency of the libertarian’s fledgling government. It changes or annuls hundreds of laws and creates new regulations in an attempt to deeply reform the Argentine state. 

The proposal, known as the “omnibus bill” for its huge scope, is part of the president’s agenda of state reform and economic deregulation, along with his mega-decree. 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 debate begins Tuesday at 2 p.m. in a joint meeting with the members of the three commissions set up last week to discuss the bill. Energy Secretary Eduardo Rodríguez Chirillo, Justice Minister Mariano Cúneo Libarona and Rodolfo Barra, head of the Treasury’s prosecution office, will attend the meeting to talk about the reforms in the bill that pertain to their portfolios. The other ministers will speak on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We will not negotiate, we will only accept suggestions to make [the bill] better,” Milei said in an interview with Radio Mitre on Sunday.

First, the deputies in the commission debates will have to reach a verdict — a final version of the bill, with or without changes, that is approved for broader debate. Then, the bill is debated and voted on in the chamber of deputies, where it can be modified again. 

An open question

How the bill will fare is an open question. It needs a majority of 129 of the 257 deputies to pass. So far, only Milei’s ruling La Libertad Avanza (LLA) coalition has confirmed it will back the bill. Deputies from other alliances told the Herald they would either insist on modifications before approving it, or reject it outright.

With only 38 deputies, LLA’s biggest chance of passing the bill is negotiating 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, short of the necessary majority.

“We will suggest changes in some topics, and support what we think is right,” said national deputy Silvia Lospennato of JxC’s right-wing member party, PRO. She declined to specify the areas for which they would ask for modifications, saying the matter would be addressed during the commissions’ sessions.

The Unión Cívica Radical, another JxC member, will also partially support the bill. “I think all the reforms are very good in general terms,” deputy Martín Tetaz told the Herald last week. “However, we don’t agree with giving extraordinary powers to this president or any other.” They also disagree with the proposed increase to export duties and eliminating the formula used to calculate pensions, he added.


The largest coalition in Congress, Peronist Unión por la Patria (102 deputies), will reject the bill, deputy Itai Hagman told the Herald. Smaller left-wing coalitions, like the Frente de Izquierda de los Trabajadores-Unidad, are also going to vote against it.

“All the points in the bill are worrisome,” Hagman said. However, he highlighted “giving [Milei] special legislative powers, privatizing state-owned companies, deregulating the energy sector and the measures against social protest” as the most problematic.

Former JxC members that recently joined the new Hacemos Coalición Federal bloc, such as the centrist Coalición Cívica party, criticized points of the bill. “We can’t vote for a decree of necessity and urgency and an omnibus bill in bulk because the National Constitution and the division of powers are values we uphold, no matter who the government or the opposition is,” Coalición Cívica wrote in a press release Saturday. It was one of the founding members of the JxC coalition in 2015. Hacemos has 23 deputies.

The President of the Chamber of Deputies, LLA’s Martín Menem, said that while the ruling coalition is accepting suggestions, they “will not change the general thrust” of the bill.

A long, heated debate over the bill in deputies is expected, given its scope. If it is approved, with or without modifications, it will be voted on in the Lower House and then sent to the Senate, where a similar process will take place. LLA expects the bill to be passed by the end of January. Others disagree. 

“They are very optimistic, but [approving it by then] will depend on their willingness to negotiate,” Lospennato told the Herald.

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