SECTION VI. Sessions of the General Assembly. Provisions Common to Both Chambers. The Permanent Commission
The General Assembly shall begin its sessions on the first of March of each year, meeting until the fifteenth of December, or only until the fifteenth of September, in the event that there are elections, and the new Assembly must in that event begin its sessions on the fifteenth of the following February.
The General Assembly shall meet on the dates indicated, without the necessity of special convocation by the Executive Power, and its sessions and those of the Chamber of Senators shall be presided over[,] until the assumption of [office] of the Vice President of the Republic, [by] the first titular [person] of the list of Senators most voted for of the lema most voted for.
Only for grave and urgent reasons may the General Assembly or either of its Chambers, or the Executive Power, convoke extraordinary sessions to terminate a recess, and then exclusively for the purpose of dealing with the questions which have given rise to the convocation or with a proposed law declared to be of urgent consideration and that is under study although it was not included in the call. Likewise, a recess is automatically suspended for the Chamber which has before it or which receives for consideration, during the recess, a proposal declared to be of urgent consideration.
A simple convocation to extraordinary sessions does not suffice to terminate the recess of the General Assembly or of either of its Chambers. For the recess to be interrupted sessions must actually be held, and the interruption shall last as long as the sessions are being held.
Each Chamber shall be governed internally by such regulations as it may issue, and when they meet jointly in General Assembly, by such rule as the General Assembly may make.
Each Chamber shall appoint its president and vice presidents, with the exception of the president of the Chamber of Senators, whose appointment is governed by the provisions of Article 94.
Each Chamber shall appoint its secretaries and personnel, in conformity with regulations which must be established in accordance with the guaranties provided in Article 58 to 66, wherever appropriate.
Within the first twelve months of each legislative term, each Chamber shall approve its budget by a vote of three-fifths of its full membership, and shall notify the Executive Power in order that it may be included in the National Budget. These budgets shall be structured by programs and, in addition, shall be given broad public dissemination.
Within the first five months of each legislative term, any changes deemed indispensable may be adopted by the same quorum.
If the budget has not been approved before these periods have expired, the previous budget shall continue in force.
Neither Chamber may open its sessions unless more than half of its members are present, and if such is not the case on the day designated by the Constitution, the minority may meet for the purpose of compelling absent members to attend under penalties which they may prescribe.
The Chambers shall communicate in writing between themselves and with the other public powers through their respective presidents and with the authorization of a secretary.
The granting of special pensions shall be decided by secret vote and require approval by an absolute majority of the full membership of each Chamber.
The regulations of each Chamber may provide for a secret vote in cases of pardons and appointments.
Senators and Representatives shall never be held liable for the votes they cast or opinions expressed during the discharge of their duties.
No Senator or Representative, from the day of his election until that of his termination, may be arrested except in case of flagrante delicto and then notice shall immediately be given to the respective Chamber, with a summary report of the case.
No Senator or Representative, from the day of his election until that of his termination, may be indicted on a criminal charge, or even for common offenses which are not specified in Article 93, except before his own Chamber, which, by two-thirds of the votes of its full membership, shall decide whether or not there are grounds for prosecution and if so, shall declare him suspended from office, and he shall be placed at the disposition of a competent Tribunal.
Each Chamber may reprimand any of its members for disorderly conduct in the discharge of his duties, and may even suspend him by a two-thirds vote of its full membership.
By the same number of votes it may remove a member for physical or mental incapacity which developed after he took office, or for conduct rendering him unworthy of his office after he was declared elected.
A simple majority of those present shall be sufficient to accept voluntary resignations.
Vacancies which may occur for any reason during each legislative term, shall be filled by the alternates designated at the time of the elections, in the manner to be provided by law, and without a new election.
The law may also authorize the substitution of alternates in cases of temporary disability or absence of the principals.
Senators and Representatives shall be compensated for their services by a monthly salary which they shall receive during their term of office, without prejudice to pertinent deductions, pursuant to the regulations of the Chamber concerned, in case of unjustifiable absence from the Chamber to which they belong or from committees on which they are members.
Such deductions shall in each case be made in proportion to the salary.
The salary shall be fixed by a two-thirds vote of the full membership of the General Assembly, meeting in joint session, during the last period of each legislative term, for the members of the succeeding term. This compensation shall be paid with absolute independence from the Executive Power and other than this, Legislators may not receive economic benefits of any kind deriving from the office they hold.
Any Legislator may ask a Minister of state, the Supreme Court of Justice, the Electoral Court, the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, and the Tribunal of Accounts, for such data and information as he may consider necessary for the discharge of his duties. The request shall be made in writing and through the intermediary of the President of the respective Chamber, who will transmit it immediately to the appropriate agency. If the latter does not supply the information within the period to be fixed by law, the Legislator may request it through the Chamber to which he belongs, which will make a final decision in the case.
Matters pertaining to the jurisdictional business and competence of the Judicial Power and of the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal may not be de object of such a request.
Each Chamber has the right, by a resolution of one-third of its full membership, to require the presence on its floor of the Ministers of state in order to question them and receive from them information which it considers appropriate, whether for legislative purposes or for purposes of inspection or investigation, without prejudice to the provisions of Section VIII.
When such information refers to Autonomous Entities or Decentralized Services, the Ministers may require the simultaneous attendance of a Representative of the corresponding Council or Board of Directors.
Each Chamber may appoint parliamentary committees for making investigations or for obtaining data for legislative purposes.
In the cases contemplated in the three preceding articles, either Chamber may make statements, without prejudice to the provisions of Section VIII
Senators and Representatives, after they have taken their seats in their respective Chambers, may not hold salaried positions under the State, the Departmental Governments, the Autonomous Entities, the Decentralized Services, or any other public agency, or perform remunerative services of any kind for them, without the consent of the Chamber to which they belong, and in all such cases their seats shall be considered vacated by the act of accepting such a position or rendering such service.
Whenever a Senator is called to serve temporarily as President of the Republic and whenever Senators and Representatives are called to serve as Ministers or Under Secretaries of State, their legislative functions are suspended, and during such suspension their corresponding alternates shall replace them.
The legislative function is likewise incompatible with the holding of any other elective public office, regardless of its nature.
Senators and Representatives, during their term of office, are likewise prohibited from:
- Participating as Directors, administrators, or employees of enterprises under contract for works or services with the State, the Departmental Governments, Autonomous Entities, Decentralized Services or any other public agency;
- Carrying or directing matters in behalf of third parties before the Central Administration, Departmental Governments, Autonomous Entities or the Decentralized Services.
Nonobservance of the provisions of this article will entail immediate loss of the legislative office.
The prohibition provided in the first paragraph of Article 122 shall apply to Senators and Representatives until one year after the end of their term of office, except by the express authorization of the respective Chamber.
The law, by an absolute majority of votes of the full membership of each Chamber may enact regulations on the prohibitions set forth in the preceding two articles or may establish others or extend them to include persons in other agencies.
There shall be a Permanent Commission composed of four Senators and seven Representatives elected by the proportional system and designated by their respective Chambers. The President shall be a Senator of the majority.
The designation is to be made annually within fifteen days after the organization of the General Assembly or after the beginning of each period of regular sessions of the Legislature.
At the same time that this election is held, an alternate is to be elected for each of the eleven members, who shall replace the member in case of his illness, death, or other impediment.
The Permanent Commission shall be the guardian of the observance of the Constitution of the laws, and shall make the necessary representations to the Executive Power in this respect, under responsibility to the existing or following General Assembly, as the case may be.
In the event the aforementioned representations, if made for the second time, do not produce any effect, the Commission may, according to the importance and gravity of the matter in question, convoke the General Assembly on its own responsibility.
In the event that the President of the Republic has made use of the power granted him by Article 148, Paragraph 7, the Permanent Commission shall report to the General Assembly when the new Chambers are organized, or when the previous ones renew their functions.
It shall exercise its functions while the General Assembly is in recess and until its regular sessions are resumed.
Matters within the competence of the Permanent Commission that are under study by the General Assembly or by the Chamber of Senators on the date set for beginning a recess shall ipso facto be referred to the Commission.
Nevertheless, if the recess is interrupted, and during special sessions that have been decreed, the General Assembly or the Chamber of Senators may, when it so decides, assume jurisdiction in matters within its competence which are under consideration by the Permanent Commission, upon notice to the latter body.
When the special sessions are ended, matters left undecided over which the General Assembly or Chamber of Senators had assumed jurisdiction shall be referred directly to the Permanent Commission by the appropriate officials.
During each special session that takes place during a recess, the General Assembly or Chamber of Senators may make use of the power granted it by this article.
When the recess is ended, matters before the Permanent Commission that have not been decided shall be referred directly to the appropriate body.
The obligation and the responsibility imposed on the Permanent Commission by Article 129 shall not be affected by the circumstance that the General Assembly or either Chamber meets in special session, even if the General Assembly or Chamber of Senators has assumed jurisdiction over all matters under consideration by the Permanent Commission.
If the powers of the Senators and Representatives have lapsed by reason of the expiration of their constitutional terms, and the newly elected Senators and Representatives have not been proclaimed, or use has been made of the power granted by Article 148, Paragraph 7, the Permanent Commission shall continue to exercise the functions conferred upon it by this chapter, until the new Chambers are organized.
In such case, when each Chamber is organized it shall designate new members of the Permanent Commission.
The Permanent Commission shall likewise be competent to give or withhold its consent in all cases in which the Executive Power requires it in accordance with the present Constitution, and it shall have the authority conferred on the Chambers in Articles 118 et seq., without prejudice to the provisions of Paragraph 13 of Article 168.