After victory in the Senate, PT tries to approve PEC under tension in the Chamber

After victory in the Senate, PT tries to approve PEC under tension in the Chamber

After the passage of the PEC (proposed amendment to the Constitution) of the Transition through the Senate, the PT will face a more difficult scenario in the Chamber of Deputies. The turbulence may come from friction with the President of the House, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), and from the current crossfire between Congress and the STF (Federal Supreme Court), which began this Wednesday (7) to judge the rapporteur’s amendments .

Since the beginning of the debate on the PEC, Lira has made clear the position that the topic should only be discussed when there is already an agreement on the text in both Houses.

However, the text was voted on by the Senate’s CCJ (Constitution and Justice Commission) on Tuesday (6) without full agreement with the Chamber, according to people involved in the negotiations.

Lira then sought out PT parliamentarians to talk about how the text progressed. Allies of the president of the Chamber affirm that, in the current scenario, the tendency is for the Chamber to try to reduce the possibilities of expenses of the next government.

There is resistance on the benches of PP, Republicans and União Brasil —which make up the hard core of Lira— to the version approved by the Senate. Without these parties (or part of them), the PT will face great difficulty in approving the PEC in the Chamber.

Leaders of these parties have joined opponents of Lula, such as the PL, and defend a lower amount of authorization for spending and duration of just one year – this is the proposal, for example, of Ciro Nogueira, president of the PP.

But there are also those who criticize other parts of the PEC, such as the possibility of reformulating the spending ceiling through a complementary bill, and not through an amendment to the Constitution.

Since the group of allies of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) agreed to support the re-election of the president of the Chamber, Lira has been helping to get the necessary votes for the approval of the proposal and talking with parties such as PL, PP and Republicans, as showed the Sheet🇧🇷

However, dissatisfaction with the political articulation of Lula’s team has made it difficult to come up with agreements for voting on the PEC in the Chamber.

It takes 308 votes to approve a PEC in the Chamber, more than the approximately 280 deputies that currently make up the base of the future PT government. The idea is to get a block of about 340 names in favor of the proposal, to have a safety margin in the vote.

The PEC is defended by President-elect Lula and his allies to guarantee the maintenance of the Bolsa Família of R$ 600 in 2023, plus an addition of R$ 150 for children up to six years old.

The text approved in the Senate increased the spending ceiling by BRL 145 billion —BRL 30 billion below the initial value of the proposal— and for two years.

House technicians who worked on the drafting of the text were even disappointed because, despite having worked to try to meet the demands of all the leaders, they ended up seeing changes considered negative in the final wording, with a reduction in the Budget space to increase the minimum wage and recompose ministries’ appropriations.

Changes in the Chamber may lead to a tight deadline for approval of the PEC

The difficulty of approving the current version of the PEC was addressed in a meeting between Lira and deputy José Guimarães (PT), revealed by Valor Econômico and confirmed by Sheet🇧🇷

Among people involved in the negotiation, there are those who fear that the text approved in the Senate will not be directly approved in the Chamber, which could make the PEC unfeasible, which needs to be approved later this year for the government to begin its mandate with the new Budget.

The expectation, therefore, is that the topic will be discussed by Lira next week, despite the possibility of the Brazilian team playing in the semifinals of the World Cup on Tuesday (13) – which could demobilize parliamentarians.

Thus, there would be time for, as a last resort, the project to return to the Senate if it undergoes modifications.

The progress of the judgment of the rapporteur’s amendments by the STF may also affect the voting date in the Chamber, another complication for the progress of the Transition PEC.

Lula’s allies in Congress fear that, if the Supreme Court understands that the amendments are unconstitutional, Lira will withdraw from the agreement to commit to the approval of the Transition PEC.

The understanding of parliamentarians interviewed by the report is that the amendments give governance and sustain a balance between the Legislative and the Executive. If they cease to exist, the consequences may spill over into the progress of the Transition PEC.

The PT has been claiming that it has not interfered in the judgment of the STF, despite Lula having harshly criticized the amendments throughout his campaign —after being elected, he moderated his speech.

People close to Lira claim that the mayor was not happy with the imminence of the trial taking place in the Supreme Court and does not rule out the possibility that the PT base has moved behind the scenes for the issue to be discussed.

Therefore, the fear is that, if the amendments are overturned by the STF and Lira identifies the PT’s fingerprint in the decision, the agreement for the approval of the Transition PEC will be undone.

Lula’s opponents even claim that the fact that the president-elect has repeatedly criticized the amendments created the environment for the issue to be discussed in the Supreme Court, regardless of whether or not PT members have directly interfered in the progress of the issue.

Congress defends the rapporteur’s amendments

Congress sent, this Wednesday, a statement to the Court defending the constitutionality of the device.

In the ten-page document, the House and Senate lawyers state that the changes made to the rapporteur’s amendments in the 2020 Budget, with an increase in the allocation, represented “an important expansion of the influence of the Legislative Power in the allocation of budgetary resources”, in addition to decentralize “public policies to small and medium-sized municipalities, serving the public interest”.

“It is a democratic choice, approved by the Houses of the National Congress and endorsed by the Chief Executive, and which is fully in line with the legislative competences assured to the Union, through these Powers, to legislate on the federal budget”, they defend.

Congressional lawyers also claim, in the demonstration, that “possible cases of misuse of public resources must be investigated by the competent authorities”.

For them, cases of corruption involving rapporteur amendments cannot justify the recognition of unconstitutionality of the mechanism.

The position of Congress, supported by the presidents of Casas Lira and Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), also states that the rapporteur’s amendments underwent improvements during the year, after decisions by the STF, with the creation of portals to identify the author of the allocation of the resources.

However, parliamentarians close to the top of the Legislature have used loopholes in the rules to limit transparency and allocate amendments to their electoral bases, for example, without disclosing the political sponsor of the resource. For this, they are registered by an external user, which can be anyone.

Almost 1/3 of the amount already negotiated in rapporteur’s amendments –and disclosed until today– meets requests that were not submitted by deputies and senators. In addition, the division of these resources continued to favor political allies of Lira, Pacheco and Bolsonaro.

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