Brazil's Lower House Votes To Impeach Dilma Rousseff
In a landmark vote on Sunday evening, Brazil's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, supported impeaching President Dilma Rousseff, The Associated Press reports. The vote was 367 to 137 with seven abstentions. Two deputies were not present. The total easily surpassed the two-thirds majority required to send the proceeding to Brazil's Senate.
The Senate will vote by simple majority — likely next month — whether to convene a trial. If it approves, Rousseff would temporarily step down and Vice President Michel Temer would serve as acting president. A two-thirds vote of Brazil's 81 senators is required to convict and remove her from office.
According to Reuters, Brazil's ruling Workers' Party conceded defeat. The party's leader in the chamber, José Guimarães, said members would focus on blocking the effort to remove Rousseff from office in the Senate.
"The fight continues now in the Senate," he told reporters in the lower house of Congress.
Meantime, Brazil's presidential chief of staff Jaques Wagner said the government is confident the Senate will dismiss the impeachment.
It's the next step in a process that has polarized public opinion — though, according to recent polling, a majority of Brazilians supports impeaching Rousseff.
The Brazilian president is accused of tampering with state funds to make the economy look better than it actually was ahead of her 2014 re-election. She has repeatedly denied the accusations.
Many of her rivals leading the charge in these proceedings face corruption allegations themselves, as The New York Times reports.
Supporters of the former Marxist guerrilla have characterized the push toward impeachment as a coup attempt, while Rousseff's opponents say she has mishandled the economy and broken major campaign promises.
"Emotions have been running high since the impeachment proceedings began in the Chamber of Deputies on Friday, with lawmakers holding raucous, name-calling sessions that last more than 40 hours," The Associated Press reports.
As reporter Catherine Osborn tells our Newscast unit, "Brazil's deal-greased political system was on display this weekend as both sides rounded up votes down to the wire, and protesters are on the streets today across the country."
This comes at a time of widespread disillusionment, she says: "Brazilians are frustrated with their entire political class and looking for catharsis."
But there are questions about what would happen next. As NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has reported, "Temer is under investigation, as is the speaker of the house, who would be next in line."
She adds: "In fact, the political class has been so tainted by the corruption scandal that it's not clear who will have credibility to lead Brazil out of what is a desperate situation."
Have more questions about the political crisis sweeping Brazil? We broke down some of the big issues here.
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