2018 is the year of controversial bills for Brazil’s Congress

. Feb 06, 2018
Brazil Congress controversial bill 2018 Brazil's Congress will have a tough 2018. Photo: MDB Nacional
Brazil Congress controversial bill 2018

Brazil’s Congress will have a tough 2018. Photo: MDB Nacional

Congress is back from its recess, and it won’t be lacking in controversial bills to vote on this year. Many of them as treated as priority by the federal administration – like the pension system reform. It won’t be easy to gather congressional support, as many congressmen are expected to avoid controversial votes in an election year.

Pension system reform

In order to approve this bill, which is the top priority for the government heading into the 2018 legislative year, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles admitted to the possibility of watering down the bill. The latest demand from congressmen is to give special treatment to civil servants.

House Speaker Rodrigo Maia has stated time and time again that if the bill is not voted on in February, it won’t be voted on at all this year. After February, politicians will enter campaign mode. And once the election is over in November, it will be the president-elect who dictates the agenda.

</p> <h3>Maluf&#8217;s impeachment</h3> <div id="attachment_1841" style="width: 2058px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1841" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-1841" src="" alt="paulo maluf" width="2048" height="1359" srcset=" 2048w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 2048px) 100vw, 2048px" /><p id="caption-attachment-1841" class="wp-caption-text">Congressman Paulo Maluf. Photo: Wilson Dias/ABr</p></div> <p>Convicted of corruption and money laundering, Congressman Paulo Maluf was <a href="">arrested in late 2017</a>. Maluf has nevertheless managed to keep his status in Congress, although his peers will need to decide whether or not to impeach him. The House is known for its corporatism &#8211; but this is an election year, and voters respond well to <a href="">impeachments</a>. This vote is unpredictable.</p> <h3>Ethics Committee</h3> <p>In 2017, the House&#8217;s Ethics Committee dismissed all impeachment procedures against congressmen who faced corruption accusations. In 2018, it will need to analyze the case of Lucio Vieira Lima, <a href="">accused of money laundering</a>. Last year, the police found a money stash of 51 million BRL in his brother&#8217;s apartment.</p> <p>Two left-wing parties, Rede and PSOL, have asked the House Ethics Committee to impeach Vieira Lima. While prosecutors have stated that the stash belonged to his brother, former Minister Geddel Vieira Lima, the congressman has been named as a beneficiary of that laundered money.</p> <h3>“Golden rule”</h3> <p>A current law called the “Golden rule” stipulates that Brazil can only increase its debt to pay for investments, meaning that money can&#8217;t be used for basic expenses such as wages. According to Moody&#8217;s, it is likely that the administration will be forced to disrespect this golden rule. Congress must decide whether or not to lift this piece of legislation.</p> <h3>Legal privileges for politicians</h3> <p>Politicians at the federal level <a href="">can only be prosecuted</a> by the Supreme Court. However, Brazil&#8217;s top court is overburdened and cases can take years to reach a final verdict. Sometimes, they’re even thrown out for passing the statute of limitations. Congress is set to vote on whether or not politicians should be treated as &#8220;regular&#8221; citizens.</p> <p>The House floor will be voting on a bill that would restrict that status of immunity to just the president of the Republic, the house speaker, the senate president, and the Supreme Court chief justice – all of whom are in the presidential succession line.</p> <h3>Gambling</h3> <p>Since the 1960s, gambling has been forbidden in Brazil. The Senate, however, is set to lift that ban.</p> <h3>“Super salaries” for civil servants</h3> <p>While Brazil’s Constitution stipulates that no civil servant can earn a higher income than a Supreme Court justice – who takes in 33,763 BRL each month – thousands of public workers actually receive more than that through aids and unofficial bonuses. These additional sources of income are not considered to be part of a salary, so they aren’t counted.</p> <p>A new bill, which has already been approved by the Senate, would change that. The problem? Civil servants have excellent lobbyists working for them in both the House and Senate.</p> <h3>Abortion</h3> <p>In 2017, the House&#8217;s Justice Committee approved a bill that <a href="">banned abortions</a> in all circumstances &#8211; including rape. This bill, which states that &#8220;life begins at the moment of conception,&#8221; should be put to a vote this year on the House floor – bringing it one step closer to actual law. 

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