UPDATE 3-Argentina Congress passes debt law to skirt U.S. court ruling
(Adds opposition lawmakers' views, context)
By Alejandro Lifschitz and Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Argentina's Congress on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a debt bill aimed at defying a U.S. court ruling which tipped the country into default for the second time in 12 years.
After an overnight debate, the lower house of the legislature passed the bill which authorizes the government to circumvent the U.S. court and ensure bondholders receive upcoming interest payments on an estimated $29 billion in bonds, on which the country defaulted in July.
Government allies brushed aside opposition arguments that the bill would be ineffective because it failed to meet a key requirement of the original bond contracts. The bill now goes to President Cristina Fernandez for signature.
Under the law, Argentina could make payments on its foreign-held bonds locally or elsewhere beyond the reaches of the U.S. court. It also encourages investors to move their Argentine debt from the United States or other foreign jurisdictions to either Argentina or France via an exchange of debt.
Argentina fell into default in July after U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in New York barred the Bank of New York Mellon from transferring a coupon payment to bondholders unless the government settled with a group of hedge fund plaintiffs at the same time.
The ruling affected debt restructured under foreign law after Argentina's $100 billion default in 2002.
Griesa has called the plan to circumvent his court illegal. Continuación...