Brazil Impeachment Process Revived as House Forms Committee

  • Sixty-five lawmakers from all parties are on committee
  • Lower house speaker expects impeachment vote within 45 days

Brazil’s lower house of Congress restarted the impeachment process on Thursday by electing a multi-party committee that will recommend whether to oust President Dilma Rousseff.

Legislators approved the make-up of the committee in a vote of 433 to 1. The government’s leader in the chamber, Congressman Jose Guimaraes, said the committee is well balanced.

Sixty-five lawmakers representing all parties in the lower house will sit on the committee, which now has at least 15 sessions to hear Rousseff’s defense and make a recommendation to their peers in the chamber whether to impeach her. If two-thirds of the house votes against the president, the proceedings move on to the Senate.

Lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha said committee members will convene Thursday evening to elect a leader. He expects a final vote on the floor of the house within 45 days.

While Cunha accepted a request to start impeachment proceedings in early December, they failed to move forward amid legal questions about certain procedures. The Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared up those doubts, freeing up the lower house to form the committee.

Mass anti-government demonstrations on Sunday prompted lawmakers to speed up proceedings against Rousseff. Since then political turmoil has increased, as Rousseff’s efforts to bring her predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva into her cabinet met with legal and popular resistance. Thousands of protesters erupted onto the streets Wednesday night in major cities throughout Brazil, while political consulting firm Eurasia Group increased the odds of Rousseff’s ouster to 75 percent.

Backed by Brazil’s leading opposition parties, the impeachment request accuses Rousseff of breaching Brazil’s fiscal responsibility law. It also says her campaign received funds stemming from fraudulent activities. She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

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