There is uncertainty in Congress. It is not known whether or not Javier Milei will inaugurate a new period of ordinary sessions on March 1, since different legislators from parliamentary blocs received the advance by email that the president “is considering not giving the inaugural speech before the Legislative Assembly.” ”. What happened on December 10 could be repeated, when he spoke on the steps with his back to the deputies and senators.
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Next February 15 (it can be extended until the 29th) the period of extraordinary sessions that President Javier Milei enabled by decree ends with a meager result. The Government hoped to sanction at this time the Omnibus Law, “Bases and starting points for the Freedom of Argentines”, which foundered in the debate in particular (only six articles were approved and several of them in a negative way for LLA).
Deputies wait for the president to return from his tour to determine what the next step is. (Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
The head of the libertarian caucus, Oscar Zago, requested that the project return to committee, obeying the order that Milei gave from Israel. From the other Chamber, the implementation of the Single Paper Ballot, the electoral reform project that is stuck in the Senate and where the ruling party only achieved the commission's opinion.
Omnibus Law, on hold
Activity in the Chamber of Deputies is halted until the president returns from abroad (he traveled to Israel, Italy and the Vatican, where he will meet with Pope Francis).
The parliamentary strategy of the ruling party is subordinated to the nod of the head of state, beyond the participation of Minister Guillermo Francos and the head of the Lower House, Martín Menem. More than thinking about the project, they are analyzing how to rebuild relations with the dialogue blocs, such as the PRO, the UCR, We Make the Federal Coalition, headed by Miguel Pichetto, and the bloc of provincial forces grouped under the umbrella of Federal Innovation.
They must also rebuild bridges with the provincial governors who have direct influence over the representatives of the people of their provinces. The president's statements that held them responsible for the legislative failure for “betraying political agreements” and the latest economic measures such as the elimination of the Transportation Compensation Fund to subsidize urban bus companies broke the relationship between the different jurisdictions.
The head of the ruling party's bloc in Deputies, Oscar Zago, redoubled his criticism against a sector of the opposition after the collapse of the Omnibus Law in the chamber (Photo: NA – Damián Dopacio).
If the Omnibus Law is discussed again, it will have to start from scratch, that is, open the plenary session of the General Legislation, Constitutional Affairs and Budget and Finance commissions.
Milei's mega DNU and the opposition's claims in the Senate
Another point of friction between Libertad Avanza and Unión por la Patria (UxP) is the decree of necessity and urgency (DNU) 70/2023, which last December, President Milei and his cabinet signed and called “ Bases for the reconstruction of the Argentine economy”, with numerous regulations aimed at deregulating the economy of our country. The DNU was never dealt with by the Bicameral legislative process commission, since it was never formed. From the opposition, they blame Deputy Menem for not appointing the representatives of Deputies.
UxP, headed by Germán Martínez, sent three notes to the body's presidency without receiving responses. They also requested, in order to delay the formation of the Bicameral, three questions of privilege in the chamber of the Chamber in the last session. Two presented by Unión por la Patria and the remaining one by the radical deputy Fernando Carbajal. Martínez's bloc argues that due to the proportion of political representation in the Deputies (there are 99 national legislators), four of the eight seats in the Lower House correspond to them. For Martín Menem, UxP only has three seats.
Martín Menem was criticized by the opposition for not forming the Bicameral commission to deal with the DNU. (Photo: Instagram @martinmenemok)
In the Senate, where Vice President Victoria Villarruel already signed the resolution with the eight members representing her Chamber, UxP reiterated the request for a special session to debate directly in the Senate the validity of the DNU in question. “This DNU, as it is, is unconstitutional,” said Mayans from Formosa and reiterated in a note to Villarruel the request for a special session in the Senate for next February 15. He is accompanied by senators Juan Manzur, Sergio Leavy, Anabel Fernández Sagasti, Juliana Di Tullio and the rest of the UxP bench, who argued that the body's regulations are being violated.
Faced with the first request made by the opposition to debate the DNU (last January 24), Vice President Villarruel responded on the social network X: “Kirchnerism no longer manages the political agenda. “No one violates the Constitution or the regulations of the Senate, we are going to meet with the agreement of all the senators and not just those who violated the institutions.” Villarruel was also criminally denounced for failure to fulfill her duties as a public official for not calling the requested special session.
Electoral changes, in doubt: the Single Paper Ballot
The Constitutional Affairs and Justice commissions headed by Edgardo Kueider (Federal Unit) and Juan Carlos Pagotto (LLA), respectively, ruled in the Senate on the project to modify the Electoral Code that establishes the Single Paper Ballot. A project that the then opposition to Kirchnerism managed to sanction in Deputies in 2022 and that stipulates that all candidates competing in the national election are presented to the voter on the same ballot. The candidates, their campaign logos, name of the political force or alliance and photo of the first incumbent candidate are referenced there.
La Libertad Avanza promoted this sanction without changes in the Senate and achieved the majority opinion. The ruling party is not guaranteed approval in the chamber due to UxP's support for the minority opinion presented by Rio Negro senator Mónica Silva.
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Martín Menem, on social networks, spoke of the importance of this law “to know who we are voting for.” While former deputy Alejandro Topo Rodríguez answered, also for “You cannot demand that from a ballot, it is a primary responsibility of political parties and democratic institutions.”
The Senate also advanced this week in the opinion of the project to modify the Penal Code regarding the prevention and repression of money laundering, the financing of terrorism and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, a project that the ruling party wants to deal with day of the preparatory session in the Upper House, when they have to define the authorities of the body, on the 23rd. But for that, they will have to wait for Milei to extend the extraordinary session of Congress.