Argentina lower house approves budget amid economic turmoil

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s lower house has approved a 2019 budget bill that includes austerity measures demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

Lawmakers debated for more than 17 hours and voted 138-103 early Thursday in favor of the bill that now goes to the Senate. It includes tax hikes, government cuts and other measures aimed at eliminating the fiscal deficit next year.

President Mauricio Macri made a commitment to rein in spending as part of a $57.1 billion financing deal with the IMF.

Argentines have bad memories of the IMF and blame it for a dire economic crisis in 2001.

Some protesters opposed to the proposed measures clashed with police outside the congressional building on Wednesday.

Macri is trying to halt economic turmoil that has caused the steep depreciation of the Argentine peso.