After tough negotiations – which are still ongoing – concessions and retreats, the Government is heading towards holding its first session in the Chamber of Deputies, on Wednesday, to approve what remains of the Omnibus Law.
After withdrawing the fiscal chapter from the reform package, the national Executive accepted more modifications and all blocks are preparing for a session that will not be measured in hours, but in days. Despite the changes and the negotiations with governors, the dialogue groups maintain some differences. The fate of some conflicting items could end up being resolved on the premises.
It was another Monday full of meetings in Congress. The president of the Lower House, Martín Menem, received deputies and heads of the different opposition blocs, with the exception of Unión por la Patria which, beyond the latent risk of suffering another fissure, has already decided to completely reject it. The presidential advisor, Santiago Caputo, and the Secretary of Parliamentary Relations, Omar de Marchi, also participated in the conversations.
Read also: The Government suspended the payment of the Potenciar Trabajo for three months to a group of people: who is affected
At the same time, the opposition blocs, the PRO, the UCR, We Make the Federal Coalition (HCF) and Federal Innovation, held meetings with each other, in an attempt to articulate a fairly uniform position.
But in addition, the governors who have weight in these groups – and are concerned about the possibility that the fiscal adjustment will hit even harder in the provinces – held their own meeting in Buenos Aires with the parliamentary leaders and with the Minister of the Interior Guillermo Francos , one of the most “dialoguists” in the Government, although some opposition leaders doubt the official's decision-making power to enable changes.
Governors from Together for Change and dissident Peronism met with the main parliamentary leaders of the opposition and with Minister Guillermo Francos, to try to unblock the approval of the Omnibus Law (Photo: JxC).
The negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition were unblocked and accelerated after the Minister of Economy, Luis Caputo, announced last Friday the withdrawal of the “fiscal chapter” of the megaproject, aware that the Government did not have the votes to approve several key points such as the increase in withholdings or the elimination of the retirement formula without taking into account the inflation of recent months.
La Libertad Avanza took the “traffic light” model (which the opposition blocs had previously used, especially the UCR, to define which issues they would accompany and which they would not) and defined which articles they would be willing to eliminate to ensure the approval of the law, among them, changes in the fishing regime, biofuels and hydrocarbons.
It was surprising, both in the opposition blocs and among some of the provincial leaders, that the Executive also excluded from the project issues such as the moratorium or money laundering, which some governors asked to “co-participate”, while the main national officials continue to insist that, without the fiscal chapter, the adjustment will be greater for everyone.
But, according to opposition sources, to unblock the approval of the Omnibus Law there was a commitment from the national government that part of the COUNTRY tax would be shared (possibly 30%, as until now), considering the loss of income that it meant for the states. provincial governments the virtual elimination of the payment of Income Tax. The Government, officially, disseminated the following message in this regard: “The Office of the President reiterates that the PAIS Tax and the rest of the fiscal package, previously included in the Law of Bases and Starting Points for the Freedom of Argentines, are will discuss later.”
The governors maintain that the Executive's decision to exclude the fiscal chapter from the reform package opened the possibility of negotiating, with greater calm and with the participation of the provinces, a new fiscal pact.
Cristian Ritondo will continue as head of the PRO block in Deputies, while Rodrigo De Loredo will lead the UCR (Photo: NA).
The points without agreement
But fiscal issues were not until this Monday and they are not the only points that continue to generate noise among the dialogue opposition blocks such as the UCR – where sectors with the intention of accompanying the Government coexist, others who will do so out of “institutional responsibility” and others who would prefer there to be no session – or HCF (a heterogeneous space led by Miguel Pichetto, former JxC members such as Emilio Monzó and Nicolás Massot, the Civic Coalition, the Cordoban PJ and Florencio Randazzo and socialism).
Unlike the PRO bloc, which despite internal divisions and differences with the official project is finally aimed at supporting it without too many conflicts, in the other blocs there was no uniform position regarding what to do with a series of chapters that the official party refused. to modify or withdraw.
Thus, there could be problems with the chapter that refers to the widespread privatization of companies, the reforms in Environment, Culture, and the modification of the Penal Code, particularly with regard to protest and “legitimate defense.”
Miguel Ángel Pichetto, Emilio Monzó and Nicolás Massot in the oath of Deputies. (Photo: Télam)
Although the Executive reduced the declaration of emergencies from 11 to 7 areas, part of the radicalism and HCF rejected the maintenance of the delegation of powers in security, rates and energy, as well as the possibility that the Government could take on debt in foreign currency without congressional control.
That is to say, if the session takes place, although approval in general would be guaranteed, as well as that of the bulk of the chapters, there could be some articles rejected during the vote in particular. Especially if one takes into account that each article would be based on the negative vote of a hundred UxP deputies, as long as the Kirchnerist Peronist bloc does not suffer major breaks or have too many absences.
A session of days with an intermediate quarter
Finally, after two postponements, the session was officially convened for this Wednesday at 10 in the morning. This Tuesday afternoon, at 7 p.m., the Parliamentary Work meeting will take place, in which the president of the Chamber, the other parliamentary authorities (already elected from the different blocks) and the heads of all the benches must participate. to organize how precisely the session will be.
Among other things, anticipating a debate of at least 30 hours, it would have been agreed that there would be an intermission and that the discussion would be divided into several days, as requested by the opposition. For example, on Wednesday there would be debate from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the session would resume the next day, Thursday, at 9 a.m.
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Martín Menem, is one of the main actors in the negotiations for the Omnibus Law (Photo: NA).
Both the discussion prior to the vote – that is, the speeches of the deputies, the crossings, the questions of privilege – and the particular vote itself will last dozens of hours.
To begin the session, the ruling party and the dialogue blocks will need 129 deputies in their seats. It would not be necessary to have a quorum to resume the session after an intermission, but it is necessary that there be a quorum at the time of the vote: that is, during the entire vote in particular.
Otherwise, the vote and the session fall, even if the project had been approved in “general.” Some LLA leaders believe that the interruptions bring the danger of deputies who were there when the session opened, then not returning for the vote.