- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) - Brazilian President Michel Temer was hospitalized on Wednesday with a urinary obstruction, his office said, even as lawmakers debated in Congress whether to suspend him and put him on trial on corruption charges.

The presidential palace said in a statement that the 77-year-old leader had experienced discomfort Wednesday morning and was sent to a military hospital for an examination and treatment. It did not provide further details. Carlos Marun, a deputy from Temer's party, said he did not think the issue was serious.

Earlier this month, Temer’s office announced that he had been diagnosed with a partial coronary obstruction that would be treated with aspirin and a low-fat diet.

The news came as the lower house of Brazil’s Congress met for another vote on his political survival. The chamber spared him last time he was accused of corruption and was expected to do so again. But Temer’s popularity is in single digits after a series of scandals and the vote could show how effectively he will be able to govern during the last year of his term.

If two thirds of the 513 members of the Chamber of Deputies accept the charges, Temer will be suspended for up to six months while he is tried in the nation’s Supreme Court.

Temer has spent recent weeks shoring up his support, doling out local projects, plum positions and decrees favorable to his allies. Still, with lawmakers starting to think about their prospects for re-election next year, Temer’s margin of victory could be slimmer this time.

Andreia Sadi, a columnist with the Globo media giant, wrote that Temer recently lamented that many lawmakers have told him that they would like to vote in his favor but the pressure to desert is strong.

The voting was scheduled for later Wednesday, but it cannot start until there is a two-thirds quorum present. Many opposition lawmakers, hoping to drag out the process as long as possible, had refused to enter the chamber.

That raised the possibility that the vote might drag into the next day or could even be rescheduled. As the morning’s session ended, a handful of opposition lawmakers who were present began shouting, “Out with Temer!”

The charges against Temer stem from Brazil’s massive corruption investigation, which began as a probe into money laundering and ended up uncovering systemic graft in Brazil’s halls of power. Dozens of politicians and businessmen have been jailed in the probe.

Prosecutors allege that Brazil’s government was run like a cartel for years, with the political parties in power selling favors, votes and plum appointments to powerful businessmen. They say Temer took over the scheme when he came to power last year, after his predecessor was impeached and removed from office, and that his party has since received about $190 million in bribes.

Temer has denied the charges and alleged that the prosecutor who brought them had a grudge against him. In an address to lawmakers Wednesday, Temer's lawyer, Eduardo Carnelos, said the indictment contained no proof and was so confusing that it “assaults the Portuguese language, it assaults logic.”

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Associated Press writer Sarah DiLorenzo reported from Sao Paulo.

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