PEC of Spending slips in the Chamber amid tug of war by ministries and judgment in the STF

PEC of Spending slips in the Chamber amid tug of war by ministries and judgment in the STF

The negotiations around the PEC (proposed amendment to the Constitution) of Gastança, which raises the ceiling and releases R$ 168 billion in expenses for the new government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), skate in the Chamber of Deputies amid disputes by ministries and uncertainties about the future of rapporteur amendments after judgment in the STF (Federal Supreme Court).

The President of the House, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), announced that the vote on the text was scheduled for next Tuesday (20) – a day after when a final verdict from the Court on the amendments is expected. Analysis of the topic was suspended this Thursday and will be resumed on Monday.

Behind the tug of war is Lira’s desire to win allies in Lula’s top echelon and maintain the power obtained with the management of billionaire resources from the amendments —which will reach R$ 19.4 billion next year. The budget serves as a bargaining chip in political negotiations in Congress.

The mayor denies that he is bargaining for positions in the new government. But, according to reports heard by the Sheet, Lira wants a PP ally in the Ministry of Health, waving 20 to 25 votes from the bench in favor of the PEC, and supports the name of the leader of União Brasil in the Chamber, Elmar Nascimento (BA), for the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME). Elmar is also the rapporteur for the proposal in the Chamber.

On both fronts, however, Lira’s pretensions collide with Lula’s. The most quoted name to assume the MME is that of elected senator Renan Filho (MDB-AL), former governor of Alagoas and political opponent of the president of the Chamber in the state. For Health, the favorite is Nísia Trindade, former president of Fiocruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation).

According to reports, the president-elect is irreducible in the decision to appoint Nísia to Health, and Renan Filho will only not assume the ministry if he declines the position.

The posture of the petista, who has been seeking rapprochement with Lira and gave the PT the green light to support his re-election, indicates that Lula has demarcated how far he accepts to compromise in the negotiations.

In relation to Health, more than the defense of Nísia’s name, PT members argue that it is out of the question for the party to give up this portfolio. They claim that, unlike Lula’s first term, the current coalition is much larger, reducing the party’s space in the composition of the government. Therefore, they do not give up the ministries considered strategic.

Lula has been pressured by the three largest parties in Congress –PSD, MDB and União Brasil–, who want to indicate, each one, two names to compose the first echelon of the new government, a representative of the Chamber and one of the Senate.

Integration is in the sights of these parties, as is Agriculture. Among the leaders of the Chamber, the PSD wants Tourism and the MDB, Sport.

In an attempt to ease the clashes, there is an expectation that new ministers will be announced by Sunday (18). Part of the names can be announced as early as this Friday (16).

Faced with the impasse, PT leaders even issued an ultimatum and threatened to abandon the PEC, in an attempt to reduce the sense of urgency that has given the president of the Chamber bargaining power in the negotiations.

The plan, however, remains to approve the text. The PT bench even presented a proposal to Lira so that only the base text of the PEC was voted on this Thursday. There would remain the so-called highlights –excerpts voted separately–, in which opponents of the proposal could seek to reduce the validity period from two to one year. The PT’s assessment is that there would not be enough votes to prevent the changes.

Against the PT bench, rapporteur Elmar Nascimento raised doubts throughout the day about the possibility of voting on the PEC. When asked about Lula’s party’s threat to abandon the proposal if it was not voted on, he replied: “then it’s defined”.

When announcing the agreement for voting next Tuesday, Lira said that the intention is to guarantee the necessary number of votes for approval. A constitutional change needs the support of 308 of the 513 deputies.

“We are ending and finalizing the talks. Unlike what has been reported, without any kind of bargaining, because this presidency has never done [barganha]but [faremos] accommodating votes in order to have the necessary quorum to face the main votes, the highlights that may come from the plenary of this House”, said the president of the Chamber.

The PEC, already approved in the Senate, increases the spending ceiling by R$ 145 billion and authorizes another R$ 23 billion in investments outside the spending limit for a period of two years, among other items. Deputies do not rule out a possible dehydration of the text to reduce the value and deadline to one year.

Lira’s allies talk about reducing the extra amount to something between R$ 115 billion and R$ 125 billion, which would force the new government to contain its plans to increase expenses. If the change is made, the PEC would need to go through a new vote in the Senate – the president of the House, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), has already signaled that he could call the senators to analyze the text again.

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