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Argentine Congress seals 1st legislative win for President Milei after months of debate and protests

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina’s lower house on Friday approved President Javier Milei’s sweeping economic overhaul bills, sealing a much-needed legislative victory for the libertarian leader after six months of bruising negotiations and raucous protests that had raised questions about his ability to govern.

Milei’s landmark legislation, which seeks to trim Argentina’s fiscal deficit and attract foreign investment, passed a final vote in the lower house to become law on Friday. The approval was widely expected after the bills squeaked through the Senate earlier this month despite fierce political opposition.

Milei’s administration hailed the law’s passing as putting Argentina “on the path toward the free and prosperous country that Argentines chose” in last November’s election. The government blamed the turbulent process on “obstructionism” by Milei’s hard-line opponents.

Milei’s party controls less than 15% of congressional seats and has so far relied on executive powers to slash public spending and impose the president’s small-state vision. Analysts have said that only congressional approval could offer Milei the support he needs to boost investor confidence in Argentina, a country with a long history of defaulting on payments and breaching contracts.

“Milei obtained a minimum viable product from Congress to show the market that he has some willingness and ability to compromise with the political establishment,” said Marcelo J. García, director for the Americas at the New York-based geopolitical risk consultancy firm Horizon Engage.

The 232-article state overhaul bill passed the lower house comfortably after 13 hours of debate. The lower house of Congress, known in Argentina as the Chamber of Deputies, had already approved the content of the legislation in April, sending the bills to the less-friendly Senate for further debate.

This time, the Chamber of Deputies only had to accept or reverse whatever changes that senators had made during their vote earlier this month.

Milei’s legislation includes incentives for investments, a plan to privatize some state-owned companies and a contentious expansion of presidential powers over economic, energy and other state matters for one year. Although the law heralds radical reforms, its final version has been significantly watered down from Milei’s original proposal, which had more than 600 articles.

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