The main candidates for the commands of the Chamber and the Senate suspended their recesses, spend a good part of their time in Brasilia or traveling in articulations, not counting the countless hours on the phone or on video conference.
The extra effort is considered valid by the candidates who dispute the head of the Legislative, taking into account the political superpowers that arrive with the victory in the election.
Although none of them will publicly acknowledge, the series of benefits they gain from being elected is also on the radar, such as a mansion on the banks of Lake Paranoá, jets at their disposal and a series of employees to open the doors for them.
The House and Senate will choose the new presidents of the Houses in February, for a two-year term.
The two main candidates in the Chamber are Arthur Lira (PP-AL), candidate of President Jair Bolsonaro, and Baleia Rossi (MDB-SP), the name of a bloc articulated by the current president, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ).
In the neighboring House, Simone Tebet (MDB-MS) will dispute the Senate command with Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG), named by the current president, Davi Alcolumbre (DEM-AP), and who has Bolsonaro’s “sympathy”.
With a salary of R $ 33.7 thousand, to which all parliamentarians are entitled, presidents of the Senate and the Chamber automatically gain the right to move to neighboring mansions on the Peninsula of Ministers, a prime area of Brasilia.
The Senate residence, for example, has a built area of 979 m². It has rooms, kitchen, pantry, dining room, office, swimming pool, barbecue, as well as facilities for a battalion of employees. There are 15 people in total, including cooks, treadmills, maids and gardeners.
A similar situation occurs in the Chamber, although the press office of the House refused to provide information, adding that the request should be made via the Access to Information Law – which can take up to a month to be answered.
Mayor Maia between February 2011 and early 2013, Marco Maia (PT-RS) states that there is a lot of “folklore” in relation to the official residence and that its residents enjoy little of the situation.
“The residence of the mayor’s office is a large public office, almost all the time holding meetings, meetings, dinners and breakfasts. It has nothing of luxury. It is an extension of the cabinet itself”, says the former deputy. We are a family owned and operated business.
The PT adds that, during his term, an average of 2,000 agendas were carried out per year and that there was no downtime. When there was a break, he traveled to Rio Grande do Sul, his political base.
A parliamentary aide who worked for the mayor’s office reports that cooks usually prepare meals that are sent to offices on weekdays or more special coffees, accompanied by cakes and pastries, for special meetings.
An extra whim, considering that the presidential office already has a private cup, while the other parliamentary offices need to share these facilities.
The mayors of the Chamber maintain their offices of deputies and still occupy the one destined for the presidency, much larger, with a large meeting room and a view of the Praça dos Três Poderes. The head of the House still gains the right to appoint 46 more people to commissioned positions.
The benefit they consider most important, however, is the fact that they can freely use FAB (Brazilian Air Force) planes, fleeing airports, check-ins, waiting in crowded halls. The use is unlimited, with only a few hours notice to prepare.
After some abuse and excessive use, including travel for hair implant procedures, new rules have regulated the use of airplanes. They can be requested for commuting to work, on trips to the parliamentary base or in cases of health emergency.
In the federal capital, the heads of the Legislative have a car each, with drivers who are available 24 hours a day. In addition, security guards from the Congressional Legislative Police accompany the presidents at all times.
There are four teams that take turns to be at all times with the presidents of the Houses, the so-called Papa team. The number of Legislative Police agents in each team is not disclosed for security reasons.
Benefits are just one dimension of the Presidency of the Houses, positions that exponentially increase the political power of its occupants. The presidents of the Chamber and the Senate are immediately raised to a notoriety that many have never achieved in their parliamentary lives. Their faces appear frequently on the news, just as they saw memes on the internet.
The post also adds a political power whose dimension goes beyond the limits of the Houses, the main one being the control of the legislative agenda. All proposals that will be discussed and voted on in the plenary are invariably analyzed.
“The presidents of the Houses are not heads of anyone. All senators are peers, just as all deputies are equal. But you have the initiative, you have the coordination of the Bureau’s work”, says Carlos Melo, political scientist and professor at Insper.
“You have the initiative to call on the leaders and establish the agenda. Of course, nobody invented the agenda, the projects are already underway, but you have the prerogative to put one project in front of the others.”
Control of the agenda, therefore, offers great power to the presidents of the Houses, who can respond to or reject requests from the Planalto Palace, for example. Internally, it is the deputies and senators who need to articulate to see their projects entering the list of those that will be appreciated.
Melo also highlights the prerogative of the president of the Chamber to read the request for an impeachment request from the president of the Republic, an action that initiates the process.
The presidents of the Chamber and the Senate also automatically enter the line of succession of the Presidency of the Republic, right after the vice-president, being the second and third, respectively.
In addition, they are members of the Council of the Republic and the Council for National Defense, the president’s advisory body on security and foreign policy matters.