Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has suffered a blow to her hopes of staving off impeachment proceedings, after a committee voted they should go ahead.
The 65-member congressional committee voted 38 to 27 to recommend impeachment over claims she manipulated government accounts to hide a growing deficit.
All eyes will now be on a full vote in the lower house on 17 or 18 April.
The issue has divided Brazil, with police preparing for mass protests in the capital, Brasilia.
The vote took place amid chaotic scenes with supporters and opponents of President Rousseff shouting slogans and waving placards.
The committee's vote, while largely symbolic, was being watched as a measure of how much support there is for the impeachment process ahead of the crucial vote in the full lower house of Congress.
There, 342 votes in favour are needed to send the matter on to the Senate. The latest opinion poll by the Estadao daily suggests 292 are in favour, 115 against and 106 undecided.
President Rousseff, whose popularity has dived in recent months, has been hit by a faltering economy and a damaging corruption scandal focused on the state-controlled oil giant Petrobras which has implicated several senior politicians and business leaders.
Although opinion polls regularly indicate that a majority of Brazilians support the impeachment process, President Rousseff and her supporters in the ruling Workers Party say the proceedings in Congress amount to a parliamentary coup against a democratically elected government.
They point out that, unlike many of the Congressmen sitting in judgment against her, Ms Rousseff has not been formally accused in the Petrobras corruption probe but is being "tried" on lesser charges of manipulating government accounts to conceal a growing deficit.
During a bad-tempered debate leading up to the vote, Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cordozo, speaking for the president, said the impeachment process was "flawed".
"It is absurd to dismiss a president who has not committed crimes, nor stolen a penny. And such a process without crime or fraud, would be a coup," he said.
Opposition lawmaker Vanderlei Macris said an impeachment would be important to Brazilian society and would bring change.
513 members of the lower house of Congress
342 votes needed for her suspension
172 votes needed to block her impeachment
180 days she would be suspended for while the Senate debates her impeachment