Congress resumes activities with dissatisfaction due to vetoes and interference

Congress resumes activities with dissatisfaction due to vetoes and interference

Deputies and senators return to Brasília, starting this Monday (05), with the mission of trying to advance the processing of important matters discussed in the Chamber and Senate, but mainly with the challenge of trying to “appease” the tense climate at the beginning year, marked by conflicts between the powers – after the Executive’s vetoes of the Budget Guidelines Law and the Annual Budget Bill and police operations against parliamentarians carried out during recess in the Chamber of Deputies.

In yet another point of dissonance in the federal capital, parliamentarians spent the month of January expressing dissatisfaction with the Lula government’s decision to send to Congress a project that reinstates the payroll of 17 productive sectors of the economy, a matter that had already been deliberated. with the overturning of the president’s veto on the project that extended the payroll tax exemption.

Deputy leader of the government, deputy José Nelto (PP-GO), is one of the critics of the vetoes. He joins the chorus of a large number of parliamentarians who intend to mobilize their colleagues to overturn the vetoes. Regarding the exemption, or now re-encumbrance, as provided for in the provisional measure sent by the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad, to Congress, there is still no final decision. Haddad was with the presidents of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), and the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), to try to smooth out the rough edges and reduce the “climate” generated by the measure, but the expectation is that the solution comes during the week.

After meetings with the presidents of the Chamber and Senate, sources said that the government’s intention would be to send a new Provisional Measure to Congress, suspending the effects of the re-encumbrance and establishing a gradual schedule for the sectors to be re-encumbered, but the final solution should be announced during the week, as the government leader in Congress, senator Randolfe Rodrigues (AP), said.

The president of the Parliamentary Entrepreneurship Front, deputy Joaquim Passarinho (PL-MT), one of the defenders of tax relief for the Brazilian economy, states that there appears to be a “mismatch” between government leaders and the economic area, and says he expects a agreement for the next few days.

Several parliamentarians claim that the end of the exemption will cost many Brazilians their jobs, in sectors that are priorities for the Brazilian economy. A People’s Gazette is one of the companies benefiting from the exemption.

Power over amendments: Congress will try to maintain power over resources

Another ingredient in the “climão pie” installed in Brasília at the beginning of the year and which could “sour” relations between the Executive and Legislative branches is parliamentary amendments, especially if we take into account that 2024 is the year of municipal elections.

These amendments to the Budget are a way for deputies and senators to send resources directly to their electoral bases in the states and are used to finance works, purchase equipment, staff training, among other purposes.

While Congress tries to regain control over parliamentary amendments, with the definition of a calendar for payment of amounts in the first half of the year, Lula blocked the measure and vetoed the provision in the Budget Guidelines Law (LDO). With the overturn of the calendar, the president can use the amendments to bargain for support from parliamentarians, as he can accelerate or delay the release of resources according to the deputy or senator’s commitment to supporting the government. The reaction did not take long, and this should be another veto to be overturned, as sources from both the opposition and the government guarantee.

In another controversy involving the amendments, the Executive cut R$5.6 billion allocated to commission amendments in the Annual Budget Law (PLOA), which further angered parliamentarians. Lula even criticized Congress’s power over amendments, in an interview with Metropolis Radiofrom Bahia, in January, and said he would be “pleased” to explain to leaders the reasons for the cut.

Lula took advantage of the interview to criticize the relationship between the National Congress and former president Jair Bolsonaro. “On the issue of amendments, it is important to remember that the former president had no governance in this country. The National Congress was the one who governed. He did not even have the capacity to discuss the Budget,” she added.

Opposition wants public positioning of Lira and Pacheco on operations against deputies

In a parliamentary recess as turbulent as 2024, many deputies and senators had to interrupt their “vacation” to arrive in Brasília during the rest period to establish their position and demand positioning. This was the case of the opposition bench in Congress, for example, that after the search and seizure operations against the leader in the Chamber, Carlos Jordy (PL-RJ), and against Alexandre Ramagem (PL-RJ), they made a point of expressing public support to colleagues in an interview in the Green Room of the Chamber of Deputies, where they even announced Jordy’s reappointment as leader for another year.

Deputies and senators also criticized what they call “political persecution” against the right and allies of former president Jair Bolsonaro. The opposition bench in the Senate even presented an agenda to Rodrigo Pacheco, where one of the priorities should be the advancement of the project that foresees the end of the privileged forum.

The measure should also be considered a priority in the Chamber, as Jordy himself said in an interview with People’s Gazettein 2023. The 2nd vice-president of the Chamber, Sóstenes Cavalcante (PL-RJ), also believes that this should be an agenda defended by parliamentarians at the beginning of the year.

And the opposition is also awaiting a face-to-face meeting with Lira, who has remained silent about the latest episodes involving court decisions against deputies. Rodrigo Valadares (União-SE), who is seeking signatures to present a proposal that determines prior authorization from the Board of Directors of the Houses for Federal Police operations against parliamentarians, said that he even spoke on the phone with Lira after the search warrant against Jordy, and that the president seemed “uncomfortable”. But Lira has not spoken publicly.

According to the press office of the president of the Chamber of Deputies, he was in Brasília during the week, but there was no confirmation of official agendas. Sources heard by the report said that Lira took advantage of her days in Brasília to make contacts by telephone and even tried to bring together the leaders, but the meeting ended up not taking place. The meeting could even take place from this Monday (5).

But there are also those who bet that Arthur Lira may not take a confrontational stance with the Judiciary or the Executive, as he is in the last year of his term as President of the Chamber and intends to make a successor.

In addition to the silence, Arthur Lira also avoided appearing at public events in Brasília in January. At the ceremony that marked one year since the acts of vandalism on January 8, 2023, in Congress, he cited a family member’s health problems to justify his absence. Last Thursday (1st), Lira’s absence was also noted at the inauguration ceremonies of the new Minister of Justice, Ricardo Lewandowiski, and the opening of the year of the Judiciary, at the Federal Supreme Court and at the Superior Electoral Court. According to the press office, Lira was not in Brasília.

Provisional Measures can lock the agenda at the beginning of work

In addition to the Provisional Measure that provides for the reinstatement of the payroll of 17 sectors of the economy, and which may end up not “taking effect” due to an agreement between the economic team and Congress, ten other proposals release R$96 billion for the settlement of court orders and coping with climate disasters.

Most of the resources are concentrated in just one proposition: MP 1200/23, which allocates R$93.1 billion to the settlement of court orders – payment orders issued by the Court after the final and unappealable decision of legal actions. This measure provides resources to pay the Union’s financial charges and benefits the Social Security ministries; of health; and Development and Social Assistance, Family and Fight Against Hunger. The matter closes the voting agenda from March 15th.

Another ten Provisional Measures open extraordinary credits, seven of which are to mitigate the effects of climate disasters. Rio Grande do Sul, which declared a state of calamity in September last year, following the passage of an extratropical cyclone, is the beneficiary of three of these provisional measures.

In addition to allowing the reconstruction of houses, roads and bridges, the money should finance the national programs for Strengthening Family Agriculture (Pronaf) and Support for Micro and Small Businesses (Pronampe), in addition to an emergency plan for access to credit .

Unlike the South, the North of the country, hit by drought, should also receive extraordinary credits. In the economic area, another Provisional Measure provides approximately R$879.2 million for financial compensation to the states and the Federal District following the drop in revenue from the Tax on the Circulation of Goods and Services (ICMS).

The revenue losses were generated by the law that reduced the tax rate on fuel, natural gas, electricity, communications and public transport — goods and services considered essential. The total compensation owed by the Union to states and municipalities exceeds R$27 billion, and the Provisional Measure expires on March 1st.

The year should be one of leadership for the Legislature, says analyst

In the opinion of political analyst Diogo da Luz, both the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, and the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira, want to “show service” to their electoral bases in this year 2024, and therefore should take firmer stances in defense of Parliament. President Lula’s rapprochement with the ministers of the Federal Supreme Court, according to him, should continue.

Regarding the latest operations against right-wing parliamentarians, the analyst believes that the tendency is for justice operations to continue targeting allies of former president Jair Bolsonaro and representatives of the right at least until the middle of this year, in an attempt to weaken Bolsonaro.

Fake News: government wants to speed up processing, opposition resists

After the death of a young victim of false news spread by a gossip website involving celebrities and the proximity of municipal elections, many parliamentarians, especially those from the government, want to accelerate the processing of the Bill that deals with Fake Newsor Censorship PL, as the opposition calls it.

The project’s rapporteur in the Chamber, Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP), defended the need to process the project. At the opening of the year of the Judiciary at the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Minister Alexandre de Moraes once again defended the need to regulate networks.

But the opposition promises to resist. The text being processed in the Chamber was urgently approved in May last year, but, without an agreement, it did not move forward. The government even tried to slice up the proposal, inserting part of the content of the original project into another proposal, which deals with copyright, which also did not find support from the majority of parliamentarians.

Deputy Maurício Marcon (PL-RS), deputy leader of the opposition, assures that there is no agreement to advance the proposal. “As it stands, I believe it does not have the votes to approve. I will work tirelessly to ensure that this does not happen,” said the deputy.

The solemn session of the National Congress that inaugurates the 2nd Ordinary Legislative Session of the 57th Legislature is scheduled for 3pm next Monday (5), with the participation of representatives of the Three Powers and a message from the head of the Executive.

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