Brazil World Cup legislation moves closer to passage

BRASILIA,  (Reuters) – Brazilian lawmakers on Wednesday moved a step closer to passing a long-delayed measure key to preparations for the 2014 soccer World Cup, breaking a gridlock in Congress that threatened to delay President Dilma Rousseff’s legislative agenda this year.

The lower house of deputies voted in favor of the bill after Rousseff appeared to bow to pressure from lawmakers of her unruly coalition to release some frozen cash for their pet projects. The bill still needs to be debated in the senate.

Rousseff has agreed to unlock millions of reais in discretionary funding to lawmakers starting this month, two congressman told Reuters earlier on Wednesday. She also agreed to allow a vote on a controversial forest bill that has pitted conservationists against big farmers. Rousseff has sought to ease tensions with allied lawmakers whom for weeks refused to vote on key legislation, casting a shadow over the future of crucial bills including an overhaul of the country’s mining code and the allocation of oil royalties.

Closing ranks around Rousseff, the senate approved earlier on Wednesday a bill that limits pension benefits for new public workers, which the government hopes will help the state save billions of reais over the coming decades.

The lower house vote in favor of the World Cup bill not only eases tensions within the ruling coalition, but may also help mend frayed ties between the government and world’s soccer governing body, FIFA.

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