Covid hearings due to kick off, but senators fight over the spotlight

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Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco conducts sitting. Photo: Pedro França/Agência Senado

This afternoon, Brazil’s Senate gathered for a session expected to kick off a series of parliamentary hearings into the government’s pandemic response. The plan is for Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco to read a request to open investigations, as ordered by Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso last week.

Almost an hour into the session, however, no progress has been made. Instead, several senators have taken the stand, voicing their opinions either for or against setting up the hearings committee, aware that Brazil’s cable TV cameras are broadcasting their every move.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Pacheco indicated that he will not comply with the government’s wishes to extend the pandemic investigations to state governors and municipal mayors. Forty-five of Mr. Bolsonaro’s allies in the Senate signed a request to this end, but it is unlikely to be presented in the upper house today.

At the same time, according to The Brazilian Report‘s sources, Mr. Pacheco confirmed that the investigative committee will not be carried out remotely. Instead, it will be hosted in-person in the office of the Constitution and Justice Committee, where the probe’s 30 members can fit while adhering to social distancing rules.