In a major victory for embattled Brazilian President Michel Temer and his agenda of modernizing reforms, a special Chamber of Deputies committee on Wednesday night approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s bankrupt pension system. The panel voted 23-14 in favor of the main body of the reform proposal. The committee must still vote on amendments before sending the bill to the floor of the lower House of Congress. According to press reports, the administration is hoping for a vote by the full Chamber of Deputies before the end of May. If passed, the proposal will then move on to the Senate. As a constitutional amendment, the reform requires a three-fifths vote in each house of Congress. The proposed amendment has given rise to fierce opposition, especially from labor unions. The proposal enjoys little popular support since it would extend the time needed for wage and salary earners to accumulate benefits. It would also curtail long-term benefits for many. The administration has defended the reform, saying without it the government itself will go broke within a decade. Temer has made the proposal the centerpiece of his modernization program. To pass muster with the committee, the administration had to accept changes that water down the original content. According to the Finance Ministry, the proposal as passed by the committee would generate savings to the government equal to about 75% of the reform as originally written.
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