STF splits on Congressional arguments to release secret budget

BRASILIA — While Congress is looking for a way to unlock secret budget transfers, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) is divided on the arguments presented by the Chamber and Senate summits so far. A document prepared by the Legislature claims that it is impossible to indicate the authors of the nominations for the 2021 and 2020 rapporteur amendments, which, for a wing of ministers, contradicts the Court’s decision to demand transparency. Another group of the STF, however, considers that the measures presented by Congress in response to the court order are already sufficient to at least release the resources that are impounded — in parallel with the publication of the internal act on the subject, the presidents of Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), and the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), filed an appeal with the Supreme Court asking for release.

Know more:Secret budget: Pacheco says he disagrees with the STF decision, but does not rule out improving the law for more transparency

Part of the Court badly received the request made by the two Houses and assesses the rule written by the Legislature as non-compliance with a judicial decision, since the minister expressed her request for transparency for the 2020 and 2021 amendments. In the opinion of these ministers, accept the A demand from Congress as presented would be to agree to the existence of a secret budget, albeit beforehand. The Bolsonaro government has used the mechanism to rally support in Congress.

Behind the scenes of the STF, another wing assesses that it is already possible to release the execution of the amendments, since the transparency measures informed in the petition would meet, according to these ministers, what was determined by Rosa Weber. For this group, although the issue of retroactivity — classified by Congress as “unenforceable” — still needs to be defined, what was presented would already be the minimum sufficient to release the amendments that were suspended.

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In practice, Rosa can decide alone in the petition presented on Thursday, granting or denying the request to suspend the blocking of amendments. The minister will also be able to take the congressional request directly to the plenary, causing the other ministers to manifest themselves together. In this case, the rapporteur will have to release the process for judgment, whose date would later be set by the president of the Supreme Court, Minister Luiz Fux.

When granting the preliminary decision, at the beginning of the month, Rosa wrote that “the regulations pertaining to the rapporteur’s amendments (RP 9) distance themselves from these republican ideals, making the identification of requesting congressmen and final recipients of the expenses foreseen therein, in relation to the which, through the identifier RP 9, the sign of mystery falls”.

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In addition to the lack of transparency about the sponsors of the transfer of resources from the Union Budget in the rapporteur’s amendments, this amount is not divided equally among all parliamentarians.

Taken to trial for confirmation or overturning, the Minister’s injunction ended up gaining massive support from the rest of the Court. In her vote, Minister Carmen Lúcia classified the secret budget as a way of co-opting political support, which would put the democratic system at risk.

“This behavior compromises legitimate, correct and dignified representation, distorts the processes and purposes of democratic choice of elected officials, removes the interest sought from the public and blinds the scrutiny of the people to the expenditure of resources that should be directed to meeting the needs and legitimate aspirations of the nation,” said Carmen.

In another chain, which ended up being defeated, minister Gilmar Mendes defended a “middle ground” that would avoid the suspension of payments already committed (reserved for expenditure) in the rapporteur’s amendments, but would determine the creation of guidelines so that transparency could be given to the entire congressional decision-making process that results in the allocation of public resources.

“The constitutional principles of publicity and transparency must be observed in all phases of the budget cycle and not just in the execution phase”, stated Gilmar.

Part of what is conventionally called the secret budget, the rapporteur’s amendments are an artifice whereby the deputy or senator chosen to prepare the opinion on the Budget for that year has the power to directly forward suggestions for the application of federal resources indicated by other parliamentarians. The records of these nominations are not opened, and the system makes inspection difficult.

Congressional Offensive

In an attempt to convince the Supreme Court to go back and authorize the execution of the so-called rapporteur’s amendments, senator Davi Alcolumbre (DEM-AP) discussed the matter with ministers of the Court last week. He took the field with the support of the president of the Senate, who also met with Fux last week and Rosa Weber on Thursday.

According to interlocutors heard by GLOBO, one of the arguments used by parliamentarians is that the STF decision paralyzed the Budget and, if nothing is done, several services will be harmed, including in the health area.

Rapporteur of a draft resolution to change the rules of the rapporteur’s amendments, senator Marcelo Castro (MDB-PI) said he intends to “give full transparency” to convince the Supreme Court to review its decision. But the indication of the owners of the amendments would only be for resources not implemented in 2021 and from 2022 onwards.

— It is virtually impossible to give a full demonstration of all the amendments nationwide in the 2020 Budget, which has now expired. From 2021, the deadline is very tight to carry out this survey – said Castro.

According to him, half of the amount of BRL 16.5 billion in rapporteur amendments (BRL 11 billion for deputies and BRL 5.5 billion for senators) has not yet been committed.

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