Argentine Senate Passes Bases Law

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent has years of experience and training in open source intelligence gathering and journalism. He specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs, with a broader interest in European politics. Trent serves as the Latin America Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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Argentina’s Senate passed President Javier Milei’s controversial “Bases Law” on Wednesday, over a month after the bill passed through the Chamber of Deputies and followed a deadlocked vote in the Senate alongside a large-scale protest just outside the government building.

A Long Debated Bill

For much of the day, the Argentine Senate was locked in a 36-36 tie for those who stood against the bill and those who supported it. The tie was eventually broken by Vice President Victoria Villarruel who supported the bill resulting in resounding boos from Kirchnerist senators.

“Today there are two Argentinas, a violent Argentina that sets a car on fire, throws rocks and debates the exercise of democracy, and another Argentina with workers waiting with great pain and sacrifice for the change that they voted for,” Villarruel told the legislature during her vote.

Villarruel’s mention of an Argentina “that sets a car on fire” was a clear reference to the thousands of demonstrators who had gathered outside of the Palace of the Argentine National Congress while the bill was being debated in the Senate, culminating in the overturning of a vehicle belonging to Cadena 3, an Argentine news outlet, before lighting it on fire while a journalist of the same media outlet was assaulted.

Senators will now vote on the individual articles of the Bases Law before it will be sent back to the Chamber of Deputies for approval due to alterations made by the Senate during the debate. Finally, the bill will be sent to Milei himself who is likely to approve it but maintains the ability to veto the entirety of the bill or veto portions of the bill and return it to Congress with requested changes.

The changes to the proposed Bases Law include maintaining several state-owned companies as state-owned rather than privatizing, as wished for by Milei and the ruling Libertarian Party which included Aerolineas Argentinas, Radio y Television Argentina, and Correo Argentino, the national postal service. Furthermore, the Senate added a number of cultural organizations to a list of entities Milei cannot dissolve, established a commitment to finish public works projects that are more than 80 percent complete, and adjustments to the proposed Large Investment Incentive Regime (RIGI) which initially sought to grant tax benefits for businesses in agriculture, infrastructure, forestry, mining, oil and gas, energy, and technology sectors. Key among these adjustments was a new requirement that forces businesses who wish to benefit from RIGI to ensure at least 20 percent of suppliers are local.

The Bases Law seeks to address a number of economic issues within Argentina and revive the nation’s struggling economy. The bill seeks to significantly deregulate the Argentine market, cut government spending, privatize a number of government owned companies, and grant Milei further power in fields such as the economic, administrative, financial, and energy sectors for one year.

President Javier Milei (Photo – Bloomberg/Erica Canepa)

Milei has faced increasing public discontent following the president’s controversial budget cuts to a number of government sectors in an effort to revive Argentina’s struggling economy. These cuts have resulted in the firing of 15,000 state employees as well as cuts to public universities’ funding. These cuts to public universities’ funding ultimately led to thousands of university students taking to the streets of Buenos Aires against Milei, with universities claiming to have been forced to shut off power on campus as they were unable to pay bills.

As articles of the Bases Law are debated within the Senate, further protests against the bill are certain as the nation looks towards the possible future of Argentina’s economy.