The National Congress of Brazil (Portuguese: Congresso Nacional do Brasil) is the legislative body of Brazil’s federal government. Unlike the state Legislative Assemblies and Municipal Chambers, the Congress is bicameral, composed of the Federal Senate (the upper house) and the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house).
The current house of the Brazilian Legislative Branch was inaugurated with the new capital, Brasilia, in 1960. As well as the design of the city, the architectural lines of the National Congress building were conceived under the influence of modernism. The straight and simple traces by urban planner Lucio Costa comprise an aesthetic unit with the monuments designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer.
The National Congress building houses the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The utmost symbol of the capital, it is characterized by pure and geometric forms, by the volumes of its semi-spheres and by the free spaces flanking it. The National Congress is located in the vertex of the equilateral triangle that encloses the Three Powers Plaza. At the vertices of the base of the triangle are the headquarters of the Executive and the Judiciary Branches.
The architecture of Niemeyer and the modernist works of art that compose the Rooms and the plenary hall of the National Congress.
In early 1900s, the Brazilian National Congress happened to be in separate buildings. The Senate was located near Railway Central Station, beside the Republica Square, at Moncorvo Filho Street, where there is today a Federal University of Rio de Janeiro students’ center. The Federal Chamber of Deputies was located at Misericórdia Street, which would later be the location of the State of Rio de Janeiro’s local Chamber of Deputies. From the 1930s to early 1960s, the Senate occupied the Monroe Palace, which was demolished in the 1970s to allow the construction of the subway Cinelândia station. The Federal Chamber of Deputies moved to Brasília in early 1960s as well, but for a couple of years temporarily occupied a building near the Municipal Theater.
Since the 1960s, the National Congress has been located in Brasília. As with most of the city’s government buildings, the National Congress building was designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the modern Brazilian style.
The semi-sphere on the left is the seat of the Senate, and the semi-sphere on the right is the seat of the Chamber of the Deputies. Between them are two vertical office towers. The Congress also occupies other surrounding office buildings, some of them interconnected by a tunnel.
The building is located in the middle of the Monumental Axis, main street of Brasília. In front of it there is a large lawn where demonstrations take place. At the back of it, is the Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers Plaza), where lies the Palácio do Planalto and the Supreme Federal Court.
On December 6, 2007, the Institute of Historic and Artistic National Heritage (Portuguese: Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional) decided to declare the building of the National Congress a historical heritage of the Brazilian people. The building is also among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as part of Brasília’s original urban buildings, since 1987.
The Brazilian legislative process is bicameral, since it involves the manifestation of the will of two legislative chambers for the production of legal norms. The norms that are submitted to this procedure are the amendments to the Federal Constitution, the complementary federal, ordinary and delegated laws, the provisional measures, the federal legislative decrees and the common resolutions of the two houses of the National Congress of Brazil.
The Federal Senate (Portuguese: Senado Federal) is the upper house of the National Congress. Created by the first Constitution of the Brazilian Empire in 1824, it was inspired in United Kingdom’s House of Lords, but with the Proclamation of the Republic in 1889 it became closer to the United States Senate.
Currently, the Senate comprises 81 seats. Three Senators from each of the 26 states and three Senators from the Federal District are elected on a majority basis to serve eight-year terms. Elections are staggered so that two-thirds of the upper house is up for election at one time and the remaining one-third four years later. When one seat is up for election in each State, each voter casts one vote for the Senate; when two seats are up for election, each voter casts two votes, and the voter cannot give his two votes for the same candidate, but, in elections for the renewal of two-thirds of the Senate, each party can present two candidates for election. The candidate in each State and the Federal District (or the first two candidates, when two thirds of the seats are up for election) who achieve the greatest plurality of votes are elected.
Chamber of Deputies
The Chamber of Deputies (Câmara dos Deputados) is the lower house of the National Congress, it is composed of 513 federal deputies, who are elected by a proportional representation of votes to serve a four-year term. Seats are allotted proportionally according to each state’s population, with each state eligible for a minimum of 8 seats (least populous) and a maximum of 70 seats (most populous).
All these standards are appreciated by the two Houses, either together or separately. The projects that work together in the two Houses are those related to the budget laws – Plurianual Plan, Budgetary Guidelines Law, Annual Budgetary Law and its amendments and Provisional Measures issued by the Executive Branch.