Brazil’s Bolsonaro pressures lawmakers before key fiscal vote

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BRASILIA (Businesshala) – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday that a vote against expanded government spending next year was a vote against the country, putting pressure on lawmakers in the lower house ahead of a crucial second round of vote on new fiscal rules. .

FILE PHOTO: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during the ceremony for the Modernization of Occupational Health and Safety Regulations at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil October 7, 2021. Businesshala/Useli Marcelino/File photo

Bolsonaro is pushing for changes to the constitution that would let the government spend an additional 92 billion ($16.5 billion) next year to advance welfare programs during his likely election campaign.

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A second round of voting is expected on Tuesday in the lower house of Congress, as the preliminary vote passed by only four votes last week. A constitutional amendment must be passed twice with at least three-fifths of votes in each house.

The law’s difficult path through the lower house raises doubts about its prospects in the Senate. On Monday, Bolsonaro said he expected it to face an uphill battle there. If that fails, the government may have to strike a deal with the Supreme Court on how to pay billions in court-ordered payments.

The constitutional amendment, which is key to giving Bolsonaro temporarily more than double welfare spending next year, rattled financial markets and several senior Treasury officials were summoned last month.

It has also sparked intraparty debates in Congress, as politicians seek more liberal welfare programs against the loss of fiscal credibility and a potential electoral boost for Bolsonaro.

Presidential candidate Ciro Gomes, whose leftist candidate is third behind Bolsonaro and former leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the 2022 race, said he was shocked that the majority of his party’s lawmakers supported the legislation.

Gomes said last week he was suspending his presidential race to pressure members of his Democratic Labor Party (PDT).

On Tuesday, the PDT leadership said it was changing course and pressured lawmakers in the lower house to vote against the amendment in a second round, when 15 out of 24 initially gave their support.

“We have decided to change the situation in the name of maintaining the unity of our party,” Volny Queiroz, the leader of the PDT in the lower house, wrote on social media.

Reporting by Lysandra Paraguasu in Brasilia and Eduardo Simos in So Paulo; Written by Gabriel Stargarder; Editing by Brad Haynes and Will Dunham

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