A new stage begins in the Chamber of Deputies. The opening of ordinary sessions will have begun with shouts, but, quietly, the ruling party and the opposition began to poll each other a long time ago to establish some kind of common agenda that would allow Congress to be reactivated, at least until the campaign starts. They will not be the big issues -nobody dares to talk about the reform of the Council of the Magistracy or the Ley de Leas-, but some economic and social initiatives that generate some relief and make it possible to circumvent the logic of polarization that prevailed up to now. Together for Change, for example, will begin to relax the blockade these days, when several commissions meet to discuss the wave of crimes in Santa Fe. More and more opposition voices insist that it is time to change the strategy and fight to enable debate on some issues. The Frente de Todos, meanwhile, still celebrates having managed to put an end to the bad streak of failed sessions with the sanction of the pension moratorium and is excited to be able to repeat the same scenario -with the same numbers- in the future.
“We have to get to work. The Executive screwed up, yes, but that’s it,” confesses a radical deputy who was on the warpath with the ruling party in the last three months. He is not the only one: in the radical bloc -as well as in the PRO, although they reveal it less- there are several voices that point out that the time has come to relax the parliamentary blockade that JxC has been maintaining uninterruptedly since December. “As long as the outrage against the Supreme Court continues, we are not going to give a quorum,” they had expressed, at the time, from the leadership of the opposition coalition when the impeachment process began against the four judges of the Highest Court. However, since the investigation will last – at least – until June, it becomes more and more difficult to sustain the decision to have Congress paralyzed. And it is that beyond the excuse of impeachment, the cambiemite leadership was always clear that in March it would resume negotiations.
This week, for example, a plenary session of the Justice and Criminal Legislation commissions was convened to deal with a project to strengthen the Federal Justice of Santa Fe. The project bears the signature of 19 deputies from Santa Fe – of all political colors –but it had been in a box since the end of November (when an informative meeting was held), partly because the Executive did not promote it and partly because of the opposition blockade. The shooting at the supermarket of Antonela Roccuzzo’s family in Rosario, however, was the little push she needed. Hours after the threat to Lionel Messi, the president of the ruling bloc, German Martinez (Santa Fe), communicated with the vice president of the PRO, Federico Angelini (Santa Fe), to try to enable the Criminal Legislation Commission, which is chaired by María Luján Rey (PRO) and has not been called since the JxC blockade began. Finally, an agreement was reached -both deputies signed the project- and the initiative will be discussed -and probably ruled- on Wednesday.
Another of the ruling party projects that has the approval of JxC is the Agribusiness Promotion Law. The project seeks to promote investments and exports in the sector, for which it proposes a series of tax benefits that have the support of a large part of the political spectrum. The project was presented two years ago, when Julian Dominguez he was Minister of Agriculture, and ended up losing parliamentary status. In recent months, however, the presidents of the Budget committees, Charles Hellerof Industry, Marcelo Casaretto and Agriculture, Ricardo Buryaile (radical deputy and former minister of Mauricio Macri), have been making modifications to the original project in order to present a new text this month. Close to Buryaile, they even maintain that in the coming weeks the Agriculture commission – which had been paralyzed since the JxC blockade began – could be reconvened to deal with it.
Beyond the change in scenery, it will not be easy to negotiate to reach a session. “If the ruling party wants a quorum, it will have to agree on the projects or seek a quorum with its usual allies”warned a PRO deputy. The FdT knows this and that is why the real bet for the future is to repeat the quorum of the session that sanctioned the pension moratorium last week. That is to say: the Rio Negros and missionaries of the United Provinces, the Buenos Aires residents and Santa Fe socialists of the Federal Interbloc – with the expectation of being able to also convince the people of Cordoba who respond to Juan Schiaretti – and the four leftist legislators. The objective of the ruling party is to promote sessions with short agendas, little conflictive, that include some of the initiatives promoted by the blocks of the media -as was the case, last week, of the medical records digitization project- and that allow the promotion of some of the initiatives that the Executive Power has been asking for. This is the case of Agroindustria, Monotributo Tech and some initiatives related to Health.
There won’t be much time either. Both the ruling party and the opposition speculate that, once the lists are closed, every time it will be more difficult to session. In addition, we must add the tensions generated by the political trial of the judges of the Supreme Court in opposition. In the last meeting, in which the judges Sebastián Ramos and Alejo Ramos Padilla appeared as witnesses, the JxC deputies denounced that the investigation was “tainted with nullity” and they got up and left (although a part later returned). At the moment, a sector of the opposition seems willing to negotiate some (few) issues, But any progress in the investigation of the Supreme Court could quickly be used as an excuse to return to the parliamentary deadlock.