Brazil’s Senate Votes to Advance Rousseff Trial to Final Stage

BRASÍLIA—Brazil’s Senate voted on Wednesday to move the impeachment trial against suspended President Dilma Rousseff to its final phase, as expected, setting the stage for a final vote that could oust her later in August, after the nd of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Senators voted 59-21 to approve a report calling for her removal after 16 hours of often-angry speeches. The start of the final phase needed only a majority of senators to be present, but 54 of 81 senators will have to vote to convict Ms. Rousseff to remove her from office.

Senate officials have indicated the final vote will likely take place toward the end of August, after the Olympics have finished. Acting President Michel Temer, who was elected as Ms. Rousseff’s vice president, would complete the more than two years remaining in her term if she is convicted.

Ms. Rousseff is accused of violating budget laws by delaying payments from the government to state-controlled banks, in effect forcing the lenders to provide short-term loans to her administration. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Wednesday morning’s result was expected. The number voting against her—already more than the two-thirds needed to eject her—suggests she faces an uphill climb if she wants to stay in office.

There should be “votes to spare” against Ms. Rousseff when the final vote in the Senate takes place later this month, according to Thiago de Aragão, an analyst at Arko Advice in Brasília.

Ms. Rousseff’s impeachment trial will cap an effort that started last December, when Brazil’s lower house of Congress accepted a petition to remove her from office. After several stops and starts, and multiple rulings from the Federal Supreme Court, the Senate agreed in mid-May to hold a trial, resulting in Ms. Rousseff’s automatic suspension from office for up to 180 days.

The suspended president, who had won re-election only 14 months before the impeachment process started, had seen her approval ratings plunge since her victory as the struggling economy and a burgeoning corruption scandal sapped her popularity.

Ms. Rousseff and her supporters have called the impeachment process an attempted coup d’état by moneyed elites seeking to reverse the gains by Brazil’s poor and middle classes during the government of the suspended president, and her predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The last stage of Ms. Rousseff’s trial in the Senate will be overseen by Ricardo Lewandowski, the president of Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court, and Ms. Rousseff might appear before Senators in person as part of her defense.