“The House got together to vote one of the most important reforms for the country, and we got a spectacular victory, 379 votes,” tweeted House Speaker and Chamber of Deputies President Rodrigo Maia. “Welfare is a very difficult issue, but I am happy that we will have the opportunity to re-establish fiscal balance and generate investment.”
Jair Bolosnaro, the nation’s president, was also pleased, as the reform is one of his top priority items since taking office in January. The overhaul is expected to save up to 3 trillion reis ($783 billion) over 20 years.
“Brazil is increasingly close to entering the path of employment and prosperity,” he tweeted, thanking Maia.
The lower house’s approval is the first of four needed to pass. It will now undergo a second round of voting in the lower house. If successful, the proposal will then go to the Senate, which must also vote twice. The bill is still subject to congressional edits.
Bolsonaro’s reform seeks to shore up Brazil’s economy by raising the national retirement age while making it more stringent to access benefits. Trade unions and opposing politicians have said these actions target the poorest Brazilians, forcing them to work longer. They can currently retire in their 50s.
The president hoped to have a reform fully passed earlier in the year, but the initial proposals experienced delays and changes that caused Economy Minister and Bolsonaro’s right-hand man, Paulo Guedes, to threaten his resignation if a “watered down” version passed.
Either way, it’s quite a feat for the president considering the past four administrations have tried and failed to get a pension revamp going.
Bolsonaro believes a pension reform will pass this year.
The next vote is expected to occur before Congress breaks for recess at the end of the month.
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