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Milei’s Austerity Passes First Test in Congress Committees

(Bloomberg) -- President Javier Milei’s measures to shore up public accounts and reduce the presence of the state in the economy succeeded through their first test in congress.

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The so-called omnibus bill was approved by members of the general, budget and constitutional committees in the first hours of Wednesday, after debates that had started late in the previous day. It received the support of 55 lawmakers, although 34 expressed partial disagreement, according to a statement from congress.

Milei’s party, which had spent the day in negotiations with governors and house representatives, made a few concessions to the provinces, but the bulk of the economic program remained intact. The government did not budge on tax increases for to several key exports, including soy subproducts, wheat and corn, nor on reforms to pension payments.

The libertarians now want to take the bill to a vote on the floor of the lower house on Thursday, one day after labor movements are set to organize a national strike against the government’s austerity measures.

Read More: Milei Gets Pragmatic as Hostile Congress Forces Him to Negotiate

The president’s nascent libertarian party has about 15% of the seats in the lower house and 10% in the Senate, while Peronism and the left-wing parties have just under half of the votes in each chamber. Milei counts on the support of the pro-business PRO party and more moderate members of two other political groups — Union Civica Radical and Hacemos por Nuestro Pais — to push through his reforms.

(Adds detail on changes to the bill in third paragraph.)

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