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I. Functioning of National Legislature
Neither the Regulation of Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) nor the Regulation of the Senate provide for specific measures for the functioning of the body in the case of emergencies. However, the National Constitution provides that the president may, under exceptional circumstances, depart from ordinary legislative procedure and take necessary measures by decrees of immediate need and urgency. The decrees so enacted must be submitted for consideration and approval of Congress within ten days, and discussed and approved by the full Congress.
President Alberto Fernández issued Decree 297/2020 on necessity and urgency due to the COVID-19 outbreak on March 19, 2020, mandating preventive social isolation.
II. Emergency Parliament
No provisions for a prearranged subgroup or “emergency parliament” has been identified.
III. Working During COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 13, 2020, in compliance with the guidelines established by the Ministry of Health, the Chamber of Deputies adopted preventive measures against COVID-19 aimed at stopping the spread of contagion and protecting the health of lawmakers and their staff. In line with those guidelines, all events scheduled for March have been suspended upon a decision from the leadership of the Chamber of Deputies under Resolution 0578/20. In addition, the presence of advisors in committee meetings is restricted (those meetings may only be accessed by members), but advisors and staff will be able to participate through internal TV or via the web.
High risk employees of the Chamber of Deputies, such as, those over 65 years of age, pregnant and puerperal women, and those with disabilities or pathological and/or immune-depressed health histories, are allowed to take special paid leave under a permit provided by the General Directorate of Human Resources of the Chamber of Deputies, in order to comply with the health precautions recommended by the Ministry of Health. In addition, the Chamber of Deputies has implemented telework for most of its employees for fourteen days starting on March 17, 2020, except for essential services necessary to allow for the Chamber to carry out its functions.  It also provides that meetings of members and other government officials will be conducted by videoconference or Webex. Similar measures were taken by the Senate. Until March 31, the Senate will only have legislative sessions if the National Executive power sends a bill for a vote.
The Senate has implemented the “Senate Mobile” platform allowing for remote work so that its operations are not adversely affected by the mandatory social isolation ordered by the national government within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new platform, developed by the Senate IT teams, will allow staff who are currently working remotely to access the Senate’s intranet, their institutional emails, and the internal administrative system. This tool will allow staff to carry out most internal activities, including having access to shared files in order to perform coordinated tasks in work groups, and other applications commonly used in administrative processes.
Staff will be able to enter the platform directly with their internal username and password. In addition, a remote help desk will be made available for consultations and advice.
IV. Operation of Legislative Offices when Members and Staff Are Unable to Travel
No pre-existing law or regulation was located specifically addressing the operations of Congressional offices when the travel and movement of members and staff are restricted. However, the information provided in the previous section addresses specific measures adopted under the COVID-19 situation.
Prepared by Graciela Rodriguez-Ferrand
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
 Press Release, Honorable Cámara de Diputados de la Nación, La Cámara de Diputados Medidas de Prevención Frente al Coronavirus, (Mar. 13, 2020), https://perma.cc/49CU-VMPM (citing Ministry of Health guidelines).
 Id. arts. 7, 8.
Last Updated: 12/30/2020