The Senate is expected to have a busy week. However, the leader of the government, Romero Jucá, from the PMDB party of Roraima state, says that the only “relevant vote” will be on the minimum wage, scheduled for Wednesday, February 23.
On paper, the government has more than 60 allies in the Senate, where there are a total of 81 senators. Even so, special care is being taken with the minimum wage vote.
Leaders of political parties allied with the administration have a meeting with president Dilma Rousseff to work out their strategy for the vote.
There is concern with amendments to the government’s bill, especially Article 3 that permits the executive to establish new minimum wages until the year 2015 by decree, that is, without the need to obtain congressional approval.
One senator in the government coalition, Roberto Requião from the PMDB party of Paraná state, has already announced that he considers the article unconstitutional.
Another problem is opposition to the minimum wage itself, at 545 reais (US$ 327). Senators with links to labor movements and worker unions are not happy about it.
The Senate will also be installing its permanent committees (“comissões permanentes”), such as Economic Issues, where hearings on the appointments of Central Bank nominees for directorships will be held.
Other committees that are expected to be working by February 22 are: Science and Technology; Social Issues; Infrastructure; Human Rights; Tourism; Regional Development; and Environmental Control and Oversight. Members of the Education Commission are also expected to take office this week.
And, finally, the most important committee, Constitution and Justice (a close equivalent to Ways and Means in the United States), which has already been installed, will deal with the immediate hiring of 1,014 civil servants: 514 medical experts for the Social Security system and another 500 appointees who will occupy positions in the federal administration that do not require civil service exams.