Brazil's Temer loses key minister before pension vote

MarketsAssociated Press

Brazilian President Michel Temer lost a key liaison in Congress Friday as he struggles to corral enough votes to push through an ambitious pension reform.

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Congressman Antonio Imbassahy resigned from his role as institutional relations minister, acting as a middleman between Temer and the rest of Congress. But he said he would remain loyal to the embattled leader, who has been slipping in the polls.

Imbassahy is the second minister from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, a Temer coalition partner, to leave the cabinet in recent weeks. Several Temer allies want the party out of the cabinet entirely because it has not delivered votes.

Temer aims to send the unpopular pension reform to Congress before Christmas. Politicians, however, say he's falling short of the 308 votes needed to pass the reform. The pension overhaul would set a minimum retirement age and require most people to work more years to receive full benefits.

Earlier Friday, Temer urged business leaders to back the overhaul, which is a central pillar of his plan to help Brazil recover from a protracted recession. Temer asked businessmen at a chemical industry conference to help him drum up support for the reform in Congress.

The vote faces an uphill battle as Congress struggles with corruption allegations and as Brazil's 2018 elections near.