Congress claims it made budgetary grants transparent. It hasn’t

lira bolsonaro pacheco grants
From the left: House Speaker Arthur Lira, President Bolsonaro, Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco. Photo: Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress

In a last-ditch attempt to convince the Supreme Court to retract its decision to suspend the so-called “rapporteur-designated grants,” Congress says it has increased the transparency of these traditionally opaque pork-barreling tools, used to allocate federal funds to projects requested by lawmakers.

Except it hasn’t.

In an extra edition of its official gazette, Congress passed a rule that claims to disclose the party in power in each municipality and state that received grants — an investigation that The Brazilian Report has already carried out. However, the only data it has published consists of a table with the percentage of municipalities that benefitted according to each ruling party. 

The table hides the fact that mayors with close ties to congressional leaders ended up with the largest shares of grants. Since House Speaker Arthur Lira directly manages the money in the lower house – instead of Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet – even opposition lawmakers have received their fair share of pork. 

For instance, opposition senators Rogério Carvalho, Weverton Rocha, and Eliziane Gama (from opposition parties, PT, PDT, and Cidadania) signed the internal regulation. In the House, Mr. Lira got left-leaning counterparts to ratify the rule, including Eduardo Bismarck, from the center-left PDT in Ceará (see the dashboard below), and Marília Arraes, from the Workers’ Party in Pernambuco. Sources told The Brazilian Report that most signatories have received a share of rapporteur-designated grants.