“I am going to continue sitting,” the president of the official bloc of the Chamber of Deputies, Germán Martínez, when they asked him about the future of legislative activity when the World Cup fever began. For a long time it was speculated that, once the World Cup began, the Congress would enter a state of hibernation, since the main objective of the national government –the 2023 Budget– would have been sanctioned and the rest of the year would have to the entire population centered in Qatar. However, the World Cup began and the Chamber of Deputies responded by calling a session for Thursday, in which it will seek to approve Zero Alcohol at the wheel. In addition, several projects remained in the pipeline that will continue their parliamentary course these days, such as the Packaging Law or the Social Security Moratorium.
The Senate, meanwhile, it has a less auspicious outlook. There, the numbers of the Frente de Todos are not guaranteed -since José Mayans’ illness was added to by a pro-government senator who requested a license to travel to Qatar-, so the relationship of forces does not play in favor of the ruling party. Although there is an expectation of repeating the experience of Deputies with “consensus” agendas, The FdT will face the challenge of resuming the dialogue with Juntos por el Cambio after the debacle surrounding the candidates for the Judicial Council.
Three sessions in Deputies
When Alberto Fernández extended the ordinary sessions, a sector of Together for Change set off the alarm: the government was going to suspend the PASO. The initiative had been presented by Luis Di Giácomo from Río Negro and, quietly, several FdT deputies had been pressing for his treatment. Finally, that project fell on deaf ears –mainly due to the resistance of the President himself– and, instead, the official bloc opened the door to deal with various laws that had been frozen.
That was the case of, for example, the Packaging Law, a project that seeks to make producers responsible for the management of the packaging they introduce into the market. Pushed by the cartoneros cooperatives, the Law had begun its treatment at the end of last year, but fell due to the strong business lobby against it. To avoid the same outcome, the FdT is analyzing introducing some modifications –such as giving companies the possibility to develop their own recycling system if they want to avoid the environmental tax– that allow for closer positions with some sectors of the opposition. The objective of those who promote the law is to reconvene the Natural Resources commission, chaired by Leonardo Grosso, next week and issue an opinion.
Another case is that of Zero alcohol behind the wheelan initiative that has been promoted for two years and will be approved this Thursday. The project prohibits driving any vehicle with more than zero grams of alcohol per liter of blood (today the limit is 0.5) and has the support of all political forces (with the exception of the resistance of some wine industries). In Thursday’s session, which will begin at 11 am, other issues of consensus will be discussed, such as the Johanna Law -which seeks to care for pregnant women in cases of perinatal death- or the national program for genetic heart disease.
The objective of Germán Martínez is, in addition, to be able to meet twice more. The FdT’s eye is on initiatives that, like the Buy Argentine or the Social Security Moratorium, they still do not have the number to be approved in the enclosure -fundamentally due to the rejection of JxC- but that the block still “do not give up”. The case of the Moratorium It is special because it carries a countdown, since the decree signed by Alberto Fernández expires on December 31 and, if the law is not sanctioned by then (it already has half a sanction from the Senate), about 800 thousand people could be left unprotected.
The tight minority of the Senate
In the Senate, meanwhile, they make numbers. In last week’s session, the FdT had managed to endorse the decree that designated the candidates for the Council of the Magistracy in plenary session. The objective was to politically strengthen the candidacy of Martín Doñate (FdT) over that of Luis Juez (PRO) and it was achieved with a unanimous but very close vote of 37 votes: 34 of his own and 3 allies. The problem, now, is that the FdT -which already had the head of its interblock, José Mayans, down for health reasons– will have a new absence: Sergio “Oso” Leavy from Salta, who requested a license without salary to travel to Qatar. With this new loss, the FdT will not be able to reach a quorum on its own – counting allies -, so it will be forced to have the support of PvC if it wants to meet. A JvC that, that is to say, is still brooding over the ruling party’s maneuver.
“The situation is not that serious,” says, meanwhile, a FdT senator, who is confident that a last session will be coordinated with JxC before the end of the year. The eye, fundamentally, will be on some consensus initiatives that were recently approved in Deputies, such as the National Registry of Alimony Debtors and the Unique Certificate of Disability.