Cunha Delays Decision on Brazil Impeachment, Lawmaker Says

  • House speaker moves his decision to next year from November
  • As speaker, he has power to open impeachment process

Brazil’s lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha will postpone until next year his decision whether to accept the opposition’s leading impeachment request against President Dilma Rousseff, Congressman Darcisio Perondi said.

Cunha discussed the new timeframe in a talk with lawmakers, said Perondi, a member of the speaker’s PMDB party. Cunha’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a call and text message seeking comment.

As leader of the lower house, Cunha alone can accept an impeachment request against the president. He said as recently as Tuesday that he could decide on the main plea this month. If he accepts, that would open a protracted process in Congress that ultimately may result in Rousseff’s removal from office.

The delay gives the president some respite as she strives to build support in Congress to protect her mandate and shore up fiscal accounts. Rousseff has made progress of late and just hours ago secured support in Congress for vetoes of bills that would have raised federal spending. Last week she won approval of legislation that boosts fiscal revenue by providing incentives for Brazilians to repatriate fortunes.

Newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported earlier Wednesday that Cunha would postpone his decision on impeachment.

Record Lows

Still, Rousseff’s approval rating remains stuck at record lows amid a deepening recession and expanding corruption scandal that allegedly involves some politicians in her Workers’ Party, know as the PT.

Members of Brazil’s largest opposition party are still pushing for Rousseff’s removal and have supported the leading impeachment plea against her. A group of high-profile lawyers including a former PT member and retired justice minister filed the request last month, alleging she doctored fiscal accounts to mask the severity of a budget deficit. She says she did nothing wrong.

Cunha meanwhile is embroiled in a scandal of his own as a congressional ethics committee investigates whether he lied about using an offshore account to hide kickbacks. The probe could result in his removal from Congress. He denies the allegations.

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