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Legislation

Brazil still short of votes for key pension reform bill, VP says

Hamilton Mourao, Brazil’s vice president

Brazil's new government is still short of the number of votes it needs to get its flagship austerity bill approved in the lower house, according to Vice President Hamilton Mourao.

Some 250 lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies currently back a constitutional amendment to cut pension outlays, below the 308 needed to secure passage, Mr. Mourao told reporters Tuesday in Brasilia. About 150 opposition lawmakers are against the proposal, while the government will have to negotiate support from 60 or 70 others, he said.

Mr. Mourao's remarks illustrate the scale of the challenges that President Jair Bolsonaro's administration faces the day before it sends the pension reform to Congress. Mr. Bolsonaro's government has no coalition and hence must work from scratch to build support for the bill, which investors describe as key to cutting debt and boosting confidence. A scandal that cost the government one of its closest aides, as well as potential grumblings from congressional interest groups are also complicating efforts to secure lawmaker support.

Details of the government's plan, including establishing a minimum retirement age of 65 for men and 62 for women, prompted local assets to rally last week on bets the government will succeed in passing a broad reform. Still, lawmakers have been much more cautious in their reactions.