SANTIAGO – After last week’s approval in the House of Representatives, the pension bill sailed through the Senate with a total of 29 votes. Among those who voted in favor were five senators from the governing coalition Chile Vamos. The next step is a vote back in the House of Representatives, as the Senate approved the bill with changes.
The Chilean pension bill, which would allow for the partial withdrawal of pension funds to alleviate the economic problems during the coronavirus pandemic, has now also been approved in the Senate. This continues the momentum from last week, when the House of Representatives approved the bill in what many considered a historic vote – as well as a massive defeat for the administration of President Sebastián Piñera that actively campaigned against the bill.
Already before the Senate’s vote, it was clear that this session would be less tense than the two earlier sessions in the House of Representatives. Whereas all 24 senators forming part of the opposition announced they would vote in favor, five other senators from governing coalition Chile Vamos said they would do the same. For approval, the bill needed 26 votes. That amount was surpassed, with 29 senators voting in favor of it.
Government party UDI previously threatened to take all of its member senators who voted in favor to the party’s Supreme Tribunal, the same action the party took after its member representatives voted in favor last week.
Steps To Take
There are still several legislative steps to be taken before Chileans are allowed to withdraw 10 percent of their pension funds. Although the withdrawal of 10 percent of pension funds was approved entirely, the Senate approved other parts of the bill with changes, meaning that the amended bill must go back to the House of Representatives for a further vote. The bill’s path then depends on whether the House approves or rejects the Senate’s changes.
- If the House approves the Senate’s changes, these must be ratified by the House for dispatch from Congress.
- If the House rejects the Senate’s changes, a commission with both representatives and senators will work together on solving the differences. The outcome of their work will then need to be voted on again, both in the House and Senate, and then only if both approve will the bill be sent on to President Piñera to be signed into law.
- Once the bill reaches President Piñera, he then has the power to veto it, and government spokeswoman Karla Rubilar did not rule that out as an option during a press conference yesterday.
Accordingly, the road to withdrawal of pension funds is still long and full of obstacles.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.