BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday said he is confident that the lower House will to raise a government spending cap and stagger payment of court-ordered debts in a second-round vote expected this week.
But Bolsonaro said in a radio interview that he foresees trouble for its passage in the Senate.
A constitutional amendment must pass twice with at least three fifths of the votes in each chamber, but this one passed a first test in the lower house last week by just four votes.
The bill would allow for 92 billion reais ($16.7 billion) of additional spending next year, including a more generous monthly welfare stipend for 17 million poor families.
“It passed the first round of voting in the Chamber, and I think it will pass the second, but we’re going to have problems in the Senate,” he told Jovem Pan radio.
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Bolsonaro has promised a monthly payment of 400 reais under a proposal he calls Auxilio Brasil, more than double the average stipend for the long-running Bolsa Familia program.
Critics of Bolsonaro, who compared Bolsa Familia to vote buying in his 2018 campaign, say the president is resorting to populist policies with an eye on next year’s election.
The push to overhaul Brazil’s fiscal rules spooked investors last month and has also drawn scrutiny from the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber issued an injunction on Friday that could bar some 8.5 billion in pork barrel spending attached to the bill by the government to win the backing of lawmakers.
Her injuction would at least force Congress to make public the destination of the earmarks, which spoil backroom deals with opposition lawmakers who do not want to be seen siding with Bolsonaro’s government in return for pork barrel funds.
(Reporting by Ricardo Brito in Brasilia and Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo; Writing by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Brad Haynes and Angus MacSwan)
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