In her first formal appearance before Congress in four years, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday delivered an American-style State-of-the-Union address, seeking aid against an enveloping economic crisis. Rousseff asked Congress to approve sweeping tax, spending and social security reforms designed to fight down looming deficits. The appeal was received with polite applause. When it came to a specific request for a new tax on financial transactions, however, members of Congress voiced loud disapproval. The President said top priorities for the coming year will include preservation of social assistance programs and a renewed government effort to fight the spreading Zika virus. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization declared an international emergency because of the virus, which is spread via mosquitos. The current Zika crisis is thought to have originated in Brazil. Rousseff’s speech comes amid a dragging economic crisis, with Brazil facing a second year of declining growth and double-digit inflation. Many members of Congress have voiced support for the President’s impeachment, citing a sprawling corruption scandal at state-owned oil company Petrobras. However, press reports in recent days indicate that zeal for an impeachment move in Congress is waning.
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