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Brazilian President: Pension Vote Could Be Delayed to Early 2018

FILE - President of Brazil, Michel Temer at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, Sept. 20, 2017.

Brazilian President Michel Temer said a key vote on a bill streamlining the social security system could be delayed to early 2018 as the government struggles to gather support among lawmakers.

Speaking to journalists in Buenos Aires on Sunday, Temer said he was confident that the bill, seen as crucial to reining in government debt, would pass a lower house vote this year but negotiations will continue even if does not.

"If it's not this year, it will be in the beginning of next year," Temer said, according to a transcript of a news conference.

His remarks struck a more flexible tone than his statements last week, when he said he would not even consider delaying the vote to 2018. Presidential and congressional elections next year, seen as the most wide open in decades, could make it even harder for Temer's administration to pass the unpopular measure.

Temer agreed with lower house leaders last week to vote on the constitutional amendment during the week of Dec. 18, the last before the Christmas recess. Approval in the lower house would send the reform to a final Senate vote.

The reform proposal seeks to increase the age at which Brazilians can retire and collect social security. It would also make pension payouts in Brazil, among the most generous in the world, more modest.