Brazilian Senate consultants: Congress ignored Supreme Court

A technical report from consultants within the Brazilian Senate exposed House Speaker Arthur Lira and Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco by insinuating that they have deliberately disobeyed a Supreme Court order. 

Both leaders say they are unable to disclose the identities of lawmakers who received opaque and informal budgetary grants used to whip votes for government-sponsored bills, as the Supreme Court ordered earlier this month. Consultants, however, say otherwise.

Thanks to the BRL 29 billion (USD 5.16 billion) made available by the so-called “rapporteur-designated grants” — nicknamed “Jair Bolsonaro’s secret budget” by the Brazilian press — Mr. Lira was able to overcome the 60-percent threshold for approving a constitutional amendment bill allowing the government to free up fiscal space by capping the administration’s court-ordered debt repayments for next year.

Last week, the heads of Congress talked about bringing more transparency to the grants, but offered little tools that would allow the funds to be traced. An investigation by The Brazilian Report shows that municipalities controlled by the “Big Center” group of conservative parties and allies of Messrs. Lira and Pacheco ended up receiving the lion’s share of budget grants. At the same time, opposition parties that support Congress’ top officials got a slimmer share. 

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