Bolsonaro Prepares Cabinet Changes in Bid to Appease Senate

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, under pressure from lawmakers who are investigating his government’s handling of the pandemic, is preparing changes to some cabinet positions to accommodate a representative from the senate.

Senator Ciro Nogueira, a leader of the powerful group of centrist parties in congress, will likely become Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, replacing General Luiz Eduardo Ramos, who’s bound to become his secretary general, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Bolsonaro Prepares Cabinet Changes in Bid to Appease Senate

Bolsonaro will also recreate the Labor Ministry, an office that was put under Economy Ministry’s control when he took office. It will be run by Onyx Lorenzoni, Bolsonaro’s longtime ally and currently his secretary general.

Bolsonaro’s popularity has dropped to all-time lows as he faces a long-running senate probe that has found evidence of corruption in the purchase of jabs against Covid-19. The president himself is facing a criminal investigation authorized by the nation’s top court on whether he failed to stop irregularities in vaccine contracts when allegedly warned about them.

Economy Minister Paulo Guedes told reporters on Wednesday there will be changes in his department’s responsibilities regarding labor and income. Two people familiar with the matter said he was not in favor of the new structure, though saw it as necessary to give Bolsonaro a political boost. Both Lorenzoni and Guedes met on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Bolsonaro, who is currently not a member of any political party and needs alliances to pass bills in congress, also confirmed he intends to make cabinet changes, without citing names.

“We’re working on a small cabinet change, likely to take place on Monday, so that we can continue governing Brazil,” he said in an interview broadcast on social media. “I knew the work wouldn’t be easy, but it’s really very hard. I don’t recommend this post to my friends.”

While Bolsonaro finds a more amenable lower house under the leadership of Speaker Arthur Lira, senators have been more critical of his government, extending the work of the committee that investigates the response to the pandemic. Bolsonaro also needs the senate to approve his appointment of Andre Mendonca, an evangelical pastor, to join the Supreme Court.

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